Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem
- An Historical Summary

Priory of New South Wales


INTRODUCTION

In 1998 the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller, Priory of New South Wales issued "An Historical Summary". The organisation which issued the leaflet proclaimed an Anthony Zammit as its Lieutenant Grand Master.
This Historical Summary however makes certain claims which cannot be verified historically. These need to be challenged. The claims the leaflet makes, are to be found on the bottom four lines of page 2, and the top paragraph of page 3.

l 'Ordre Souverain de Saint Jean de Jerusalem
Chevaliers Hospitallers

Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem
*KNIGHTS HOSPITALLER*
A.C.N. 004 656 964
Patron: H.R.H. Karl Vladimir Karageorgovitch

Priory of New South Wales

AN HISTORICAL SUMMARY

Issued by NSW Priory 1998

Page 2

....However, as a result of the social upheavals in Russia during the early part of the 20th century, a number of the Hereditary Commanders emigrated, with many of them going to the United States where they later set up the American Priory.

Page 3

A Legal Charter of the Order was accepted by all the Hereditary Commanders of Europe and America in the year 1911 - thereby opening up the Order to all members of all Christian Denominations (with French being the official language of the Order). The Order of Knights Hospitaller grew rapidly with the Grand Duke Alexander being elected the 71st Grand Master in the year 1913. The Charter of the Order was revised on 1st October 1963 under the 73rd Grand Master (and Protector) King Peter II of Yugoslavia and since then The Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller has expanded with Grand Priories in Europe England, Malta, the United States, Australia and Cyprus. The Order's historical link since 1798 with the Order of St. John of Jerusalem thereby remains unbroken so giving full chivalric status and continuity to this branch of the Order. The title Protector of the Order devolved at the death in 1970 of King Peter II upon his son, the Crown prince Alexander (who lives in England). Currently the Lieutenant Grand Master of the Order is Chevalier Anthony Zammit of England, with Prince Karl Vladimir Karageorgovic of Yugoslavia being the patron of the Order....

More recently a new web site has been launched by the Priory of New South Wales
http://www.osj-nsw.org.au/historical_summary1.htm
This web site has much the same claims;

"All the Hereditary Commanders of Europe and America accepted a Legal Charter of the Order in the year 1911 .... Grand Duke Alexander being elected the 71st Grand Master in the year 1913. The Charter of the Order was revised on 1 October 1963 under the 73rd Grant Master (and Protector) King Peter II of Yugoslavia... The Order's historical link since 1798 with the Order Of St John of Jerusalem thereby remains unbroken .... the title Protector of the Order devolved, at the death in 1970 of the late King Peter II, upon his son, the Crown Prince Alexander. In 1991 Chevalier Anthony Zammit of England filled the office of Lieutenant Grand Master, when H.R.H. Prince Karl Wladmir Karageorgevitch of Yugoslavia became the Patron of the Order. Currently the Grand Master of the Order is H.R.H. Prince Karl Wladmir Karageorgevitch of Yugoslavia,"

"In the year 1960, the International Commission of Chivalry was setup at the Fifth Congress of Genealogy and Heraldry in Stockholm. As a result of the Commission's detailed scrutiny in assessing the validity of the Orders of Chivalry, the Congress of 1978 thereupon pronounced the following six Orders of St. John of Jerusalem as being legal and valid for inclusion in The Register of Orders of Chivalry: - ...; ...; The Order of St. John of Jerusalem Knights Hospitaller under the Protection of King Peter II of Yugoslavia; ...; ...; ...."

COMMENT.

(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 onwards.
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 1913.
Apart from Minutes provided by Pichel, there is no other solid evidence. Pichel's minutes did not make any appearance until the late 1950s!.
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 the Order."
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 Dynastic section.
(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!

CONCLUSIONS.

Both the author of the leaflet, and the author of the web page has either;
(a) reproduced uncritically material he or she has received - and let us assume the best motives,
or;
(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 scrutiny.

The Reverend Dr Michael Foster. SSC. MIWO. MIC. Cert Theol Oxon.

Sources.
#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, 1978.
#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, Can., 1928.
#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.


Updated 8th February 1999.

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