The Regular Order of Saint John of the Holy Land


Colonel Paul de Granier de Cassagnac, the Prior of France had become the Lieutenant Grand Master of the Pichel Order, but had aspirations to become the Grand Master. In October 1960, an election was arranged. With half the votes in, and a favourable return,  Cassagnac issued orders to Pichel to prepare the seals and other equipment for shipment to France. The end result went against Cassagnac, but Cassagnac's actions had angered Pichel who sought to remove him from Office. At this time, the exiled King Peter II of Yugoslavia, was a member of the Pichel organisation (introduced by Cassagnac), and sought to reconcile Cassagnac and Pichel. The reconciliation led to a period of stability, and in September 1961 Cassagnac was elected as Grand Master.

On the 30th January 1962, Cassagnac held a meeting of the European members at the Chateau de Granson and appointed King Peter as the High Protectorate of the Order. As a result of this action Pichel dismissed Cassagnac as Grand Master on February 22nd 1962. Those supporting Cassagnac, including King Peter, held the view that Cassagnac was still the legitimate Grand Master. Cassagnac was succeeded in the Shickshinny group by Lieutenant Grand Master Count Felix von Lucker (1962-1966).

King Peter had the advantage of being an Orthodox Monarch and was related to Emperor Paul I. Of significance, was the fact that the relics of the Order had been under the protection of the Royal House of Yugoslavia until the Second World War. On September 23rd 1962, with King Peter's backing, Cassagnac was re-affirmed as Grand Master by an election. On the 1st October 1963, King Peter provided Cassagnac's Order with a Charter.

The Charter was a first measure, and the leaders of the Order realised that it needed a new Constitution. The Constitution, devised for the Cassagnac Order was issued, and signed by King Peter on the 19th March 1964. With the Head of a Royal House, institutionalised as Protector to the Order, the expansion continued and in 1964, a Priory was set up on Malta under the leadership of Professor Gaston Tonna-Barthet. In addition to a new constitution, the supporters and advisers to the King, had in mind, his election as Grand Master. However Cassagnac refused to step down. On the 30th January 1965, King Peter was elected as the "73rd" Grand Master of the "Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, The Hospitallers, Knights of Malta".

Having elected King Peter as Grand Master, the King's supporters asked de Cassagnac to step down, but he refused, and instead King Peter resigned from the Cassagnac Order and formed his own, taking with him a substantial part of the Cassagnac Order. Cassagnac continued with the support of the French Priory, but with a severe loss of membership. Following the death of Cassagnac in 1966, some discussion took place to reconcile Cassagnac's Order under King Peter, but the overtures were rejected by the Cassagnac Order. Cassagnac was succeeded by Justice Louis Espinasse as Lieutenant Grand Master.

In 1967, some American members of the Cassagnac Order withdrew to establish their own Order "Sovereign Order of the Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta". One of the leading members was Isaac Wolff, known by various aliases (Robert Baden von Badische, Robert M.N.G. Bassaraba von Brancovan - Prince Khimchiachvili, Prince Robert Brancovan etc). Prince Carol Hohenzollern who was the son of King Carol II of Romania by Zizi Lambrino (the King's wife, but by an invalid marriage according to Romanian Law) was made Grand Master. The "Order" was based at the United Nations Plaza.

Some of these losses were made up by a Danish self-styled Order (Den Danske MalteserordenThe Danish Order of Malta) joining forces with the Cassagnac Order, accepting the Cassagnac Order as containing the Grand Magistracy of the ancient Order.

In 1968 Prince Carlos left the Brancovan group to become Grand Master of Cassagnac's Order, but left in 1971 to set up his own Order. Prince Carlos was succeeded by General Count Pierre de Rémond du Chélas. Upon Chélas' death in 1994, Baron Yves de Villepin took over as Lieutenant Grand Master, to be elected as Grand Master in 1995.

List of "Grand Masters"

01. Colonel Paul de Granier de Cassagnac     1962-1966 Grand Master.
    Justice Louis Espinasse                  1966-1968 Lieutenant Grand Master. 
02. Prince Carol Hohenzollern                1968-1971 Grand Master #4.
    Justice Louis Espinasse                  1971-1973 Lieutenant Grand Master. 
03. General Count de Remond de Chelas        1971-1994 Grand Master.
Fr. Georges A. Fiechter 1992-1994 Lieutenant Grand Master. Baron Yves de Villepin 1994-1995 Lieutenant Grand Master. 04. Baron Yves de Villepin 1995- Grand Master. NOTE: #1 The de Cassagnac organisation had no lineal descent from the historic Order of St John, and had separated from the Pichel Order. #2 Protector from 1962-1964. In January 1965, King Peter II of Yugoslavia, the High Protector to this Order, rejoined the Shickshinny Convent to be elected as Grand Master in January 1969. By June 1965, the King was Grand Master of his own Order. Pressure had been put upon Cassagnac to reconcile his group, with that of the King's, but Cassagnac, refused to join with the King and accept the title "Grand Master Emeritus". #3 Name change in 1999. #4 Prince Carol left to form his own Order.


The Regular Order of Saint John of the Holy Land (Wayback Machine) 

The Regular Order of Saint John of the Holy Land The Priory of France 
Notes on the Precis of History and Spirituality of the OSJ by de Quelen  
Notes on the Millenary chronology of the Hospitallers of St John 
Den Danske Malteserorden – The Danish Order of Malta (old pages)   
Den Danske Malteserorden – The Danish Order of Malta   
Comment on Den Danske Malteserorden – The Danish Order of Malta  

Created 2nd June 2004.

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Order of St John, Knights Hospitaller.