(1) Hereditary Commanders setting up an American Priory.
Hereditary Commanders did not set up an American Priory. There
is no evidence to back up such a suggestion for the early 1900s in the USA.
However in that period in the USA there were "Orders of St. John/Malta" with
their historical pedigree in the Black Association of the Orange Lodges (set
up to defend the ascendancy of the Protestants in Ireland).
By his creation of the Russian Grand Priory of 1798/9, Paul I had already
created an Ecumenical Branch of the Order, open to all Christian Denominations.
Thus within the Russian tradition, this had already happened - any event
of 1911 did not alter or add to this!
(2) Legal Charter of 1911
No Legal Charter was obtained by Russian Commanders in 1911 (where is
the evidence?) - However there is evidence of an "Order of Malta"
incorporated in the State of New Jersey in 1911. It was a break-away faction
of "The Knights of St. John and Malta" founded in 1881, itself
a breakaway faction of "The Royal Black Association of the Ancient,
Exalted, Illustrious Religious and Military Order of the Knights of
Malta" founded in 1797 as part of the Orange Lodges in Ireland and
Scotland. The evidence is in the inclusion of details in a book by Robert
Formhals who relied upon an earlier book by Robert Lands.
Also Pichel used a seal with the date on it 1911, and which
included the words "State of New Jersey" which features on his
made-up minutes of the alleged 1912
Constitution but using and 1942 typewriter! However
all enquiries using all the possible variations of names and combinations
of names (Knights of St John [of Jerusalem], Knights of Malta,
Knights Hospitaller, Illustrious Order, Sovereign Order, & etc,),
and plus or minus the year of alleged registration drew a blank
by the registration authorities in the State of New Jersey.
Being a Knight in the Black Association, was another degree in the Orange
Lodge movement, and mimicked the degrees found in Freemasonry. The Black
Association had no proven historical connection with the Order which was
founded by Brother Gerard in the Eleventh Century, of which the Russian tradition
was a part from 1798 onwards. By 1912 the group which had allegedly incorporated
in 1911 had become defunct. The archivist of the Order, had been a Dr. Bullock
who was consulted by Charles Louis Thourot-Pichel in the 1950s. Dr. Bullock
died, with the records held by Pichel. Armed with these records, Pichel developed
a whole prehistory for a new group he founded or with which he was connected,
mimicking the foundation of the Paris group, complete with its Hereditary
Commanders. The names of the alleged founding fathers of Pichel's group had
died long before the claims were made. Pichel had the additional benefit
of being acquainted with the history of the Paris group of Hereditary Commanders
who met in 1928, (Professor Baron Michael de Taube had published a book in
1955, a year before Pichel had actually Incorporated his Order in the
State of Delaware in 1956 (Reference 0503716 4100). The Charter
referred to by the leaflet was not a Charter as such, but an Incorporation,
which did not exist. The only other "Charter" is the anachronistically dated
Constitution of 1912, bearing a seal dated to 1911, but which is alleged
to have been typed on a 1942 typewriter in Schickshinny circa mid-late 1950s.
The whole story of Pichel's inventiveness was recorded by Pichel's closest
associate for many years, Crolian Edelen. In a letter addressed to Harrison
Smith, the Historian to the King Peter Order in Malta, Mr Edelen, wrote on
January 22, 1980;
"My problem with the history is that all seems to be false from 1908
to 1932 as published by Pichel. I know his Minutes are false. Dr Bulloch
was never Grand Chancellor of the Order. He was the Archivist of the old
Scottish-American Order of St John and kept these records at Lancaster,
Pennsylvania. When he was old and blind, in the early 1950's, Pichel went
to him with a story that he was writing a history of the Knights of Malta
and needed some records from the Archives. Dr Bulloch let him borrow whatever
he fancied and then obligingly died while Pichel had the most important records.
We took the material, twisted it around, took names of noblemen from the
Times Index and created an Order stemming from the Grand Priory of Russia,
all a hoax.... The Scottish-American Order went out of business in New York
about 1909 following a suicide of the Grand Chancellor, as well as a scandal
involving payment (or non-payment) of life insurance policies on the lives
of members. Some members in New Jersey tried to save the situation by securing
a charter as the "Knights of Malta" in Trenton in 1911. Their effort failed
and by 1912 was abandoned. Then Pichel came along in the 1950's and claimed
to be the duly elected officer of that Corporation to give his Order some
evidence of antiquity and to substantiate the false Minutes". -
Archives OSJ World Headquarters, St Pauls Street Valetta.
The same confession was given by Edelen to a Sovereign Council meeting
of one of the many King Peter Orders, "Combined Minutes Meetings
of Sovereign and Little Councils April 10-14, 1981 New York Athletic
Club." Present at the meeting was Anthony
Zammit. Edelen's confession is given from page 18
Edelen's confession was brought about by a well research account provided
by Robert Formhals, who had access to records of the Knights of St. John
and Malta and the Royal Black Association of the Ancient, Exalted, Illustrious
Religious and Military Order of the Knights of Malta, and who had published
an account of Pichel's myths in 1978. Thus Grand Duke Alexander was not a
Grand Master of the Order of St. John in 1913. However he was Grand Prior
of the Paris Group of Hereditary Commanders from 1928 onwards, and the Paris
Group repudiated Pichel's claims - this is on record in the Sovereign
Military Order of Malta Archives in Rome.
The matter is as simple as this; "if there
is a 1911 Charter, historically verifiable to that date - where is the evidence"?
Has the author of the leaflet, or of the details on the web page seen such?
or have they simply accepted the information uncritically and not verified
it for themselves?
(3) Grand Duke Alexander was elected Grand Master in the USA in
Apart from Minutes provided by Pichel, there is no other solid
evidence. Pichel's minutes did not make any appearance until the late
Against this is the solid evidence that the Paris Group of
Russian Hereditary Commanders under the leadership of Grand
Duke Alexander acknowledged the Grand Magistracy as being in
Rome, when they made their approach for reconciliation in the period
1929-1932. This position accords with the historic
position adopted by the Russian Grand Priory and Russian Crown. Grand
Dule Alexander would not have agreed to have accepted the Grand Magistracy
of Rome, nor made an appraoch, if he and the Hereditary Commanders believed
the Grand Duke was the Grand Master! Sadly the reconciliation
was refused on the ground that the members of the Russian Grand
Priory were not Roman Catholics. Rome certainly did not cite any
impediment such as the Grand Dule being a rival Grand Master - because no
such claim existed in 1929-1932, or at any other time before 1956, when Pichel
began his Order!
Thus Grand Duke Alexander was not a Grand Master of the Order of St.
John in 1913. However he was Grand Prior of the Paris Group of Hereditary
Commanders from 1928 until his death in 1933.
(4) The Involvement of King Peter II of Yugoslavia.
Colonel Paul de Granier de Cassagnac from 1960-1962 the Lieutenant Grand
Master in Pichel's Order recruited King Peter, but soon after to split from
Pichel, with King Peter as Protector to his Order. In 1964 the King split
with Cassagnac, taking with him most of the members, the King became the
Grand Master as well as Protector of his own Order. However by 1968,
the King's Order was split into three factions, with King Peter ceasing to
have any effective leadership. 1969 marked the beginning of the King's illness
which led to his death in 1970. The King's Order was ruled by a "Grand Majestry"
consisting of Formhals, and Prince Serge Troubletzkoy and others, but which
excluded the King, who was no longer Grand Master, but the "Royal Head".
(5) The Charter of 1st October 1963.
The leaflet claims that the "Charter of the Order was revised on
1st October 1963 under the 73rd Grand Master (and Protector) King Peter II
of Yugoslavia". At the time, King Peter was the "High Protector",
to the "Order" of which Colonel Paul Granier de Cassagnac was Grand Master.
King Peter was not the Grand Master of any "Order" in 1963. The Charter
was granted to the Order of St. John which Cassagnac led. Specifically in
the Charter it states "We assure the present Grand Master (72nd of the Order),
His Most Eminent Highness Colonel Paul Granier de Cassagnac, the testimony
of our support and of our affection".
At the beginning of 1965, King Peter was elected by a group of supporters
as Grand Master, which essentially created a new Order, as Cassagnac did
not step down as Grand Master - an office which is for life. In the traditions
of the Order, if there is no clear reason to remove a Grand Master, then
any election of a new Grand Master is invalid. As it is, even with defections,
Cassagnac's Order did continue, and continues today with its Headquarters
in France, and with Baron Yves de Villepin as its present Grand Master (since
1995). Thus the Charter, which is claimed by the "Sovereign Order of Saint
John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller (under the Patronage of H.R.H. Karl
Vladimir Karageorgovitch) is not without its problems, and may validate,
not Zammit's group, but that of Cassagnac.
A second problem is that, after the Charter was issued by the King in 1963,
this was superseded this with a Constitution in 1964, although Cassagnac
was involved in this exercise, the completed Constitution was issued by King
Peter, who then used it to govern his own Order in 1965. The leaflet does
not refer to this latter document, but however seems to assume some of the
claims, only to be found in the Constitution of 1964, such as the notion
of the Protectorship of the Yugoslavian Royal House.
(6) Protectorship after King Peter's death in 1970.
When King Peter died, his Son refused to have anything to do with the various
groups claiming to be the King's organisation.
To suggest that Crown Prince Alexander was the Protector in succession to
his Father is wrong, and the author of the leaflet in writing; "The
title Protector of the Order devolved at the death in 1970 of King Peter
II upon his son, the Crown Prince Alexander" subtly plays upon words,
as contained in the Constitution the King signed in 1964, which states
"The Head of the Royal House of Karageorgevitch is the Hereditary Protector
of the O.S.J. His role is fixed by the venerable traditions and customs of
What is important here, is that
(a) Crown Prince Alexander refused to be Protector. The following is an extract
of a letter to His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury;
"As the only son and heir of His Majesty the late King Peter II ....
I can state categorically that none of the various bodies claiming to function
under a "Charter" purportedly granted by my late father have any validity.
I have repeatedly made it clear that I do not recognize them and, as Head
of the Royal House, I alone have the authority to grant such recognition.
....... I do not recognize the validity of any "Charter" purportedly issued
to organizations misusing the name "Order of Saint John". Furthermore, junior
members of the Royal House of Yugoslavia do not have any legal right to act
in the name of the Royal House".
(b) The Constitution of 1964 the King had signed was replaced in 1968, -
although the various groups claiming to be the King Peter Order, have gone
back to using that Constitution from 1978 onwards (see Sovereign Council
Minutes 1978 onwards).
(c) Even if the 1964 constitution was entertain seriously, there was
never a hereditary protectorship for the Order of St. John as a whole. There
is no historical documentation to verify such a notion. The Order
appointed on an individual basis, Monarchs as Protectors, but this
'Protectorship' of the Order was haphazard. For example, the Order bestowed
that title on two Kings of England (Henry VII and Henry VIII). The title
was not passed down, but bestowed individually.
As well as the Czar Paul I being a Protector of the Order, so too and at
the same time, was the Western Emperor. A Protector was a powerful patron.
It is correct, that Czar Alexander followed his father as Protector, and
it is this fact that has encouraged the view amongst certain writers that
the Protectorship of Paul I was hereditary. It must be remembered that there
had been no regular authority of the Order since its ejection from Malta,
and that Czar Alexander I, was not appointed Protector by the Order, but
assumed the role of Protector of the Order after his father's murder in 1801,
had left a power vacuum in the Order. Alexander, who was concerned to further
good foreign relations and undertook to restore the Order to its previous
constitution, stated that fact himself, in a Ukase appointing Soltikoff to
continue as Lieutenant Grand Master.
There was a form of hereditary Protectorship, but limited within each nation
where it existed. In various nations, the Crown was Protector to the Order
within those nations. Russia is a classic example of this. However it is
not so much hereditary, but a property of whoever became the Monarch.
(d) The appointment of any amount of Junior Yugoslavian Royals to replace
King Peter is meaningless.
(7) Anthony Zammit as Lieutenant Grand Master.
In 1971 King Peter's Order split into two. One half run by Robert Formhals,
as Grand Master and the other run by Prince Serge Troubletzkoy as a Lieutenant
Grand Master. The Formhals group had gained Prince Andrej as Protector. In
1977, Prince Andrej swapped allegiance and joined the Troubletzkoy group
as Grand Master. Anthony Zammit was a member of the group led by Prince Andrej,
but in 1987, Zammit sought to depose King Peter's brother, Prince Andrej.
Failing to gain full support, he declared that he was running the true OSJ,
and became Lieutenant Grand Master, of an Order consisting of those who agreed
with him. Prince Andrej died in 1990, and after a period of interregnum,
Raymond J. Addington OBE became Lieutenant Grand Master in 1994. Formhals
was succeeded in 1992 by de Flachslanden.
One of the real ironies is that the American Priory registered in 1911,
and to which the leaflet refers still exists as a corporation, and
Cassagnac was succeeded when he left, by a number of others, of whom the
present Lieutenant Grand Master is Salvatore T. Messineo (1979 onwards).
Quite forgotten as a fact are the various succession of schisms which led
up to the Zammit Order. Of the 1911 Order, legally Salvatore T. Messineo
is the Lieutenant Grand Master!!
Essentially the leaflet is making claims for an Order, to which the NSW Priory
does not belong!!!
The Cassagnac split was not the only one, and other schismatic branches claim
the following as Grand Masters; Baron Yves de Villepin; John L. Grady. There
are more!!! Zammit joins a host of others all jostling for the title of Grand
Master or Lieutenant Grand Master, of an Order, which seeks to justify their
claims to be the Order of St. John with myths, and partial truths.
(8) International Commission for Orders of Chivalry.
(a) The leaflet claims quite erroneously that "The Congress
[of Genealogy and Heraldry] of 1978" included
the Order of St. John of Jerusalem "as being legal and valid for inclusion
in The Register of Orders of Chivalry". The author has mixed up the
Congress with an ad-hoc self appointed committee calling themselves the
International Commission for Orders of Chivalry. By 1964,
the Congress had ceased to recognise the International Commission for
Orders of Chivalry, some members of which continued to meet, using that title,
for their deliberations and publications. The 1978 Register was not
produced under the authority of the Congress of Heraldic and Genealogical
Sciences. From 1964 the International Commission for Orders of Chivalry had
no authority other than its own claims to rely upon.
(b) At the third International Congress of Heraldic and Genealogical Sciences
at Madrid in 1955, a commission was established on Orders of Chivalry, chaired
by Carl Zeininger. The commission presented strongly worded statements against
what it saw as illegitimate Orders. It proposed a more extensive list be
presented to the forth Congress in 1957. The fifth Congress set up an
International Commission for Orders of Chivalry at its meeting in Stockholm
August 1960. By the sixth Congress held in Edinburgh, September 1962 a
provisional list had been prepared. The beneficiaries of such an organisation
were those Orders, whose original founding Monarchies had disappeared, and
Orders which owed their fons honorum to exiled Monarchs. The decisions of
the Commission proved controversial and the Congress resolved that the question
of legitimacy of Orders of chivalry was excluded from the activities of the
International Congress. The seventh Congress in 1964 renewed the resolution.
The Commission, despite its loss of mandate continued to meet and deliberate.
Meetings were held in 1964, 1966, 1967 and in 1970 when a Register of Orders
as recognised by the Commission was published. In an updated Register published
in 1978, the Order of St. John of Jerusalem under the protection of the Royal
House of Jugoslavia was listed, with HRH Prince Andrej Karageorgevitch as
the Grand Master.
Since that date a serious re-evaluation has taken place by the Commission
who then omitted the King Peter Order in 1998, and who decided
in 1999 that; "all Registers dating from after 1964 are hereby abrogated"
and a new Register was published in 2001, updated in 2002, which excluded
the King Peter Order of St John from the
(c) Even if the 1978 Register was taken seriously, and was still
valid, the Order of St. John of Jerusalem under the protection of
the Royal House of Jugoslavia was listed, with HRH Prince Andrej Karageorgevitch
as the Grand Master, as a Dynastic Yugoslavian House Order! - and as
such has no validity, as it is repudiated by the Head of the Royal
House. No permission was given by the Royal House to include any
Order of St. John as a Dynastic Yugoslavian House Order in any list whatsoever.
Ignoring these two stumbling blocks (no longer listed, and not accepted
as a Dynastic Order by the Royal House), Zammit sought to oust Prince Andrej
as Grand Master, then separated from the Order led by Prince Andrej
to run his own Order. Thus Zammit's group would not be the Order referred
to under the 1978 Register - even though since 2001, One of Prince Andrej's
son's has taken over following Zammit's death!
Both the author of the leaflet, and the author of the web page has
(a) reproduced uncritically material he or she has received - and let us
assume the best motives,
(b) set out deliberately to mislead with omissions of vital information,
and the continued use of myth, to justify a pedigree.
In both cases, the leaflet needs withdrawing, and both the leaflet
and the Web Page need updating taking into account the real facts.
What is certain is that the Order in question
as once headed by Anthony Zammit as its Lieutenant Grand Master, and now
by HRH Prince Karl Vladimir Karageorgevitch as Grand Master, does not descend
from the Russian Grand Priory, or of any other historic branch of the Order.
What is not in question is their right to meet, or to
be called by any title or name, that is within the laws of each country,
in which the group headed by Zammit's Order is represented. What is in question
are the claims to have a certain history, which cannot stand up to academic
The Reverend Dr Michael Foster. SSC. MIWO. MIC. Cert Theol Oxon.
#Formhals, Robert W. Y. White Cross : story of the Knights of Saint John
of Jerusalem, with particular emphasis on the Hospitaller Order of St. John
of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller since 1964 under Royal Charter of Peter
II, King of Yugoslavia. Sanghals Publishers, Camarillo, California, USA,
#Land, Robert Ernest Augustus. Fifty years in the Malta Order; being data
dealing with the foundation of the ancient Order, its history, constitution
and ritual. Privately publishing by the estate of R. E. A. Land, Toronto,
#Brett-Crowther M.Sc., Ph.D., D.I.C. S.Th. , Dr. Michael Richard. Orders
of Chivalry under the Aegis of the Church. Lambeth Diploma of Student in
Theology (S.Th.) Thesis, 1st December 1990.
#Commission International Permanente D'Etudes Des Ordes De Chevalerie.
Registre des Orders de Chevalerie, The Armorial, Edinburgh, 1978.
#Commission International Permanente D'Etudes Des Ordes De Chevalerie.
Registre des Orders de Chevalerie, Italy, 2002.
#OSJ Sovereign Council Minutes 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1987 (meeting
to oust Prince Andrej!), 1987 (meeting to oust Zammit!), 1990, 1992,
1994, 1996, 1998.