I need your educated opinions on a most delicate matter, as I have
recently stumbled into an Investiture, performed by an Order calling
itself MOC, or "The Military Order of the Collar". (Maybe Guy Stair
Sainty could be kind enough to throw me a torch?)
The MOC claims to be a "legitimate Dynastic or House Order", under a
fons honorum called "The Sovereign Royal House of Aragon". Apparently
the Chief of this Royal House (and by necessity also "King of Aragon")
has been appointed to his position by some kind of "internal family
pact", written down in the middle of the 19th century.
Hence my questions:
1. Is it - in the field of continental nobiliary law - a normal,
accepted and legitimate form of behaviour to change the inheritance
laws and succession laws of a formerly reigning Royal or Princely
House, and to do it post dethronisation? I would expect that it would
cause confusion and hurt the likely success of any future Pretenders?
What do they do in Germany, among the many formerly reigning Houses?
What do they do in France and Italy? Could the House of Orléans, as
claimants to the "Kingdom of the French", for instance appoint or
assign a junior cadet of their family as rightful claimant to the
throne of the French, in direct contradiction to Salic law (and also
surpassing any possible future claimants of the senior lines?)
2. Is MOC a legitimate dynastic Order?
As a test of argument: would for instance the Grand Master of the SMOM
be likely to accept a promotion within this Order?
3. The Scandinavian branch of MOC is presently being led by a man
calling himself "Jan-Olov, Marquess von Wowern". Not to be rude and
impolite, but the name of the man have the flavour - for a
Scandinavian at least - as something like "Billiejoe Smith, Marquess
of Weavery". Is he a legitimate Marquess? Is he a legitimate noble?
And if so, by what standards?
The claim of this man to an ancient Flemish feudal dignity, is
spurious, to say the least.
In a fairly recent (2004) court case by PBR or the "Court of Patent
Appeals" in Stockholm, he has presented one of the most astoundingly
unique claims to nobility, that I have ever heard of in the history of
Europe. The argument is curtly presented below.
Apparently the bold Marquess claims that he is descended from an
ancient Flemish (Brabantine) family named "van de Wouwere", with
origins in Antwerpen. He further claims that ancient Flemish nobility
is transferred to all descendents, in both male and female lines.
(After a thousand years of intermarriages, Flanders is by now -
according to this argument - apparently, or most likely, an entirely
noble region.) The ancestor is claimed to be a "Gillis van de
Wouwere" (1090-1143), who was "Bailiff of Antwerpen" and "Marquess of
Rijen /or/ Rhien /or/ Ryen".
The Swedish branch of the present family is descended from a
"Sebastian von Wouvern", or "Sebastian the Weaver" (the spelling is
not entirely known), who settled in southern Sweden, in the late 16th
century. From various male and female descendants of this Sebastian,
do the claim of the present Marquess originate. The connection between
Sebastian and Gillis is unknown, but somehow they are assumed to be
The Court of Patent Appeals wrote in the verdict that "The
investigation presented does not in all parts contain evidence, which
at an initial inspection is completely clarifying." (Swedish:
"Utredningen innehåller inte i alla delar bevis som vid ett första
påseende är helt klargörande.")
However, the Court accepted the claims of the Petitioner, and allowed
him to change his name (from a very common name) to his ancestral
family name "von Wowern", because of his claim to noble lineage. This
decision has caused some alarm and resentment in Swedish nobiliary
circles, as anyone now can claim a noble name and title in Sweden, if
the presented evidence is unclarifying enough. The Court of Patent
Appeals only pronounce judgment on evidence presented by the
Petitioner, after this evidence have been processed by the Patent
Office, and any fairly reasonable argument advocated with vigour, will
stand unabated before the judges, without any counter-argumentation.
Ipso facto, the Swedish court system has now found a way to create
nobles, as a name change of this specific nature (with the predicat
"von") can be allowed anew in law only to those who have proven their
noble lineage. Ipso facto, the Swedish court system has now declared
that ancient Flemish nobility can be passed on to any and all
descendants. (By the way, what do the Flemings think about that?)
The Petitioner Jan-Olov - now styled "von Wouvern" - claimed that an
internal family pact had assigned this ancient feudal dignity to him
and his heirs (and some cousins and family members actually signed the
document confirming that it was so).
What ever happened to the original "feudal Marquessate of Rijen-Rhien-
Ryen"? Have it ever existed? Anyone who knows? Could there be any
claimants in Belgium, who have not signed the von Wouvern family pact?
The present Marquess do not claim his dignity through any principle of
seniority. The claim is based in its entirety on the principle of
"internal family assignation".
(And if stringent theory would be applied, now plain "Joe Smith" can
claim the "ancient feudal Dukedom of Smithereens", and after having
cousins Billyjoe and Billybob signing the internal family pact, he may
now himself claim this ancient feudal dignity, and ask the Court of
Patent Appeals in Stockholm to allow him to change his name to "of
Smithereens", thus confirming the noble name, title, style and dignity
of his ancestors, whether or not they were feudal Dukes in real life.)
The claim to the ancient feudal dignity of Marquess makes the new
noble Jan-Olov von Wouvern "one of the premier foreign nobles in
Sweden". (The premier Peers of Sweden, who are members of the House of
Knights, and Chiefs of their Names, are but mere Counts, Barons, and
Nobles. Not one Marquess among them.)
In the world of self-made Royalty and Nobility, this man might have
found one of the quickest and cleverest routes ever to a noble name
and title, notwithstanding the possibly questionable legitimacy of the
Needless to say, I am very sceptical and critical of this newly found
(and founded) route to noble lineage, dignity and title. But I must
admit that the bold Marquess has Chutzpah!
Hence the idiosyncratic subject line.
/A now very Greenish Knight
Military Order of the Collar (MOC):
Royal House of Aragon:
Decisions by the Court of Patent Appeals (in Swedish):