stairsai...@msn.com (guy stair sainty) wrote:
>François's comments on the antiquity of the Constantinian Order are mistaken;
>while the Order was never founded by Constantine the Great it was certainly in
>existence by the late 15th century and received various signs of papal support
>and recognition through the course of the sixteenth. By the time it was
>acquired by the Farnese it had been around for a respectable 200 years -
>considerably longer than the Savoy Order of St Maurice and Lazarus or the
>Medici Order of Saint Stephen.
>Neither was it ever a state merit Order (except after 1815 in Parma, a new
>foundation). It was considered a religious military Order and formally
>constituted as such in the Bull Militantis Ecclesiae of 1718. It was never
>worn by the Bourbon Grand Masters at the same time as their other Orders, and
>the statutes of the Order of Saint George of the Reunion whose decorations
>were modeled on it and which was founded as an Order of Military Merit in
>1817, forbade the wearing of the Constantinian Order at the same time. I have
>only found one painting (of Francis II) in which the Constantinian star was
>worn at the same time as his state Orders - precisely because it was not a
>state Order but a religious one.
>Its prestige certainly reflected the claims to antiquity, but these traditions
>became in essence commemorative. The Christianization of the Roman Empire was
>an event which transformed western civilization and with the Turks on Europe's
>eastern boundaries, the commemoration of this event was of great importance.
>In 1716 the Order even founded regiment which embarked upon a military
>campaign to try and drive the Turks out and re-establish the Christian Empire
>in the East. The Order also founded a military College and its extensive
>properties were used to fund good works. Indeed, the Parmesan properties of
>the Order -appropriated by Marie-Louise in 1815 and used to finance her own
>Constantinian Order which was indeed a merit Order - were added to the
>endowment of Saint Maurice and Lazarus in 1860 but then in 1948 separated and
>re-established as the
>"S.M.O. Costantiniano di San Giorgio di Parma" as a foundation with the
>President of the Italian Republic as President and these properties once again
>fund a variety of good works.
>Its continues to exist as a religious military Order even having a Cardinal
>Protector appointed by the Holy See until 1924 when this post was suspended
>"temporarily" because the Vatican was negotiating the Lateran treaty and the
>position of the Grand Master, also claimant to the T-S throne, was an
>GUY STAIR SAINTY
Re: Constantinian Order’s antiquity.
Without wishing to question the erudition of my esteemed confrère Guy
Sainty , I should like to add my two cents worth on the origins of the
contested Constantinian Orders. Most of this material was obtained
and is translated from Prince Mihail Dimitri Sturdza’s monumental
study "Grandes Familles de Grèce, d’Albanie et de Constantinople".
Following the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453 a slew of
Christian refugees from Greece, Serbia, and Albania headed for Italy.
Constantine Arianiti, one of these refugees was fortunate to be
related, to George Castriota Skanderbeg and to the Despot of Serbia by
the marriage of his two sisters. He sought refuge in Venice and
Naples passing himself off as "the ex-prince of Thessaly and
Macedonia. Emperor Frederick III believed him and recommended him to
the Pope, and without doubt also to the Paleologues of Monferrat, who
were more sensitive than other Italian princes to the true or imagined
stories of the glories of Greece. Constantine Arianiti so fascinated
his interlocutors that he was granted some fiefs in Montferrat.
Thanks then to the Renaissance which was responsible for popularizing
Greek philosophers and fabulous genealogies, Arianiti had no trouble
at all getting his bogus title of Prince of Macedonia accepted and
took a major part in the creation in Italy of the legend woven around
the glorious feats of arms of his brother-in-law George Castriota
Skanderbeg. These feats of arms were genuine but Scanderbeg or rather
his memory had the great good luck to have a great public relations
man in Constantine Arianiti.
Arianiti had another sister, also married to an Albanian ruffian,
Andrea Angheli, or Angelo in Italy who came from Drivasto. One of his
sons was Bishop Paolo Angelo who died in 1469 in Italy.
One century later, in 1550 other Albanian trribesmen, his great grand
nephews obtained the recognition of the title of Duke of Drivasto and
of the Grand Magistery of an order of their invention , the
Constantinian Order of St.George. One of them published a
magnificent folio filled with genealogical tables which were as
pompous as they were inaccurate, by the means of which these new
pretenders to the throne of Byzantium tried to show their descent from
Emperor Isaac II Ange and through him to Vespasian, the gens Flavia
and the Caesars of ancient Rome! In 1591 Pope Gregory XIV recognized
Pietro Angelo Flavio as Duke of Drivasto and Prince of Cilicia, which
was to help him enormously to propagate his historical fables on the
Constantinian Order, whose origin he claimed went back to the IVth
century in Contantinople, at Italian courts. These exaggerations
which were characteristic of the epoch only begged to be believed and
they were. High ranking enthusiasts, the Duke of Mantua, Octavio
Farnese, Duke of Parma, later Charles of Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers
were greatly interested. Giovanni Andrea Flavio Angelo, whose titles
taken from Balkan geography seemed to multiply as far as the eye could
see, published more folios in Naples , then in Venice showing that he
was only separated from Adam by 86 generations and he included
Hercules among his ancestors!! In 1623 he sold the Grand Magistery of
the Constantinian Order to a wealthy Neapolitan nobleman, Don Marino
Caracciolo, Prince of Avellino. The new Grand Master published the
statutes of the order which supposedly had existed for centuries,
published more fabulous genealogies and obtained a confirmation of the
Order from Pope Urban VIII. This is how the Order born of dubious
history but now consecrated was to develop on a legal basis like the
other major Western orders of chivalry.
More than sixty years later in 1697 another Angelo offspring once
again sold the Grand Magistery of the Constantinian Order, to which he
added successorial rights to the Eastern Empire, to François Farnese
, Duke of Parma the future father-in-law of King Phillip V of Spain.
This second sale was the one which would last. Pope Innocent XII and
Emperor Leopold recognized the Order with all the necessary
solemnity in 1699. When the Marquis Scipio Maffei, a serious
historian several years later decided to publish a work showing that
the new chivalric order was founded on historical rubbish without
value, the Papacy placed the work on the index (1714) and had good
reason to do so: the Order was demonstrating its usefulness by the
recruitment of several thousand warriors destined to fight the Turk.
Nothing should be allowed to discourage them. (What has it
Finally in 1718 Pope Clement XI fulminated a Bull making the
Constantinian Order a religious and military one in all senses of the
words and the property of the family of the Dukes of Parma of the
House of Bourbon.
In spite of litigation between the Princes of Bourbon-Parma and the
royal house of Bourbon Sicily the Order, although divided, enjoys a
prestige which remains intact.
The reason for this posting is not to denigrate the origins of the
Constantinian Order but merely to show that what is today considered
as not only acceptable but respected may have had origins which were
much less so. Thus I would suggest that when passing judgment on an
order less emphasis be placed its historical glory which may be
debatable and more on its actual visible accomplishments which are