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Saint Augustine wrote: "splendor generis splendore virtutis nobilitatur" (the splendor of virtue which ennobles the splendor of the human). The signs of true nobility are the mind and heart that is inherent in all of us.

Knights come in many historical forms besides the traditional Knight in shining armor such as the legend of King Arthur invokes. There are the Samurai, the Mongol, the Moors, the Normans, the Templars, the Hospitaliers, the Saracens, the Teutonic, the Lakota, the Centurions just to name a very few. Likewise today the Modern Knight comes from a great variety of Cultures, Professions and Faiths.

A knight was a "gentleman soldier or member of the warrior class of the Middle Ages in Europe. In other Indo-European languages, cognates of cavalier or rider French chevalier and German Ritter) suggesting a connection to the knight's mode of transport. Since antiquity a position of honor and prestige has been held by mounted warriors such as the Greek hippeus and the Roman eques, and knighthood in the Middle Ages was inextricably linked with horsemanship.

Some orders of knighthood, such as the Knights Templar, have themselves become the stuff of legend; others have disappeared into obscurity. Today, a number of orders of knighthood continue to exist in several countries, such as the English Order of the Garter, the Swedish Royal Order of the Seraphim, and the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav. Each of these orders has its own criteria for eligibility, but knighthood is generally granted by a head of state to selected persons to recognize some meritorious achievement.

Including under this term every kind of brotherhood of knights, secular as well as religious, historians of the military orders have enumerated as many as a hundred, even after eliminating the apocryphal and stillborn. This great number is explained by the eagerness with which the Middle Ages welcomed an institution so thoroughly corresponding to the two occupations of that period, war and religion. Royalty afterwards utilized this new idea to strengthen its own position or to reward faithful nobles, creating secular orders of knighthood until there was no country without its royal or princely order.

Even private individuals entered into the business; adventurers attempted to exploit the vanity of the noblesse by sham insignia of knighthood with which they decked themselves, and which they distributed among their dupes lavishly ? though not gratuitously. Hence came a whole category of orders justly considered apocryphal.

In the seventeenth century Marino Caraccioli (1624), a Neapolitan nobleman, succeeded in passing himself off as Grand Master of the Order of Knights of St. George, which he pretended to trace to Constantine the Great.

In 1632, Balthasar Giron, who called himself an Abyssinian, brought to Europe an order no less ancient, that of St. Anthony of Ethiopia, an imposture almost immediately unmasked by another Oriental, the learned Abraham Echelensis (1646).

At the court of Louis XIV, a negro -  brought to France from the Gold Coast -  posed as a prince, even securing the honor of being baptized by Bossuet (1686), and instituted the Order of the Star of Our Lady before returning to his alleged dominions.

In the Legion of Honor, democracy became a part of the new chivalry. No longer was this limited to men of noble birth, as in the past, who received favors from their king. The Order of Merit was the new society's way of recognizing citizens of merit. The head of state be he King or President could now bestow honors upon their citizenry.

The Legion of Honor is a national order of France, meaning a public incorporated body. While the President of the French Republic is the Grand Master of the Order, day-to-day running is entrusted to the Grand Chancery (grande chancellerie) headed by the Grand Chancellor, usually a retired general, and the Secretary General, a civilian administrator.

The Code of Chivalry continued to influence social behavior long after the actual knighthood ceased to exist, influencing for example 19th century Victorian perceptions of how a "gentleman" ought to behave.


There were only a few ways in which a person could become a knight. The first way was the normal course of action for the son of a noble:

When a boy was eight years old, he was sent to the neighboring castle where he was trained as a page. The boy was usually the son of a knight or of a member of the aristocracy. He spent most of his time strengthening his body, wrestling and riding horses. He also learned how to fight with a spear and a sword. He practiced against a wooden dummie called a quintain.

It was essentially a heavy sack or dummies in the form of a human. It was hung on a wooden pole along with a shield. The young page had to hit the shield in its center. When hit, the whole structure would spin around and around. The page had to maneuver away quickly without getting hit. The young man was also taught more civilized topics. He would be taught to read and write by a schoolmaster. He could also be taught some Latin and French. The lady of the castle taught the page to sing and dance and how to behave in the king?s court.

At the age of fifteen or sixteen, a boy became a squire in service to a knight. His duties included dressing the knight in the morning, serving all of the knight?s meals, caring for the knight?s horse, and cleaning the knight?s armor and weapons. He followed the knight to tournaments and assisted his lord on the battlefield. A squire also prepared himself by learning how to handle a sword and lance while wearing forty pounds of armor and riding a horse.

When he was about twenty, a squire could become a knight after proving himself worthy. A lord would agree to knight him in a dubbing ceremony. The night before the ceremony, the squire would dress in a white tunic and red robes. He would then fast and pray all night for the purification of his soul. The chaplain would bless the future knight's sword and then lay it on the chapel or church's altar. Before dawn, he took a bath to show that he was pure, and he dressed in his best clothes. When dawn came, the priest would hear the young man's confession, a Catholic contrition rite. The squire would then eat breakfast. Soon the dubbing ceremony began.

The outdoor ceremony took place in front of family, friends, and nobility. The squire knelt in front of the lord, who tapped the squire lightly on each shoulder with his sword and proclaimed him a knight. This was symbolic of what occurred in earlier times. In the earlier middle ages, the person doing the dubbing would actually hit the squire forcefully, knocking him over. After the dubbing, a great feast followed with music and dancing. young man could also become a knight for valor in combat after a battle or sometimes before a battle to help him gain courage.

The first and simplest method of knighting was that used on battlefields, when the candidate knelt before the Royal commander of the army and was 'stricken with the sword upon his back and shoulder' with some words such as 'Advances Chevalier au nom de Dieu'. (The action of touching the sword on the recipient's shoulder is known as dubbing).

The second method involving greater ceremony, which could include the offering by the knight of his sword on the altar.

Although the monarch's 'lieutenants in the wars' and a few others of high birth could knight others, over the years successive Sovereigns began drastically to limit the power to confer knighthood - particularly Henry VIII.

Eventually, it became the custom for monarchs to confer all knighthoods personally, unless this was quite impracticable.

The alternative to knighthood was the payment of a fine instead of military service, and kings such as Edward II, James I and Charles I found such fines a useful source of income for the crown (this practice of fining was abolished in Charles II's reign).

James I even instituted a new honor of baronetcy (a title which could be passed on to descendants) in 1611, so that he could raise money and valuable reinforcements for his army.

Degradation from knighthood

In extreme cases, when a knight was found guilty of treachery or treason, he could lose his honor by formal degradation - a public ceremony in which his accouterments were taken off him.

Because the office of knighthood was treated with so much regard, taking on aspects of holy devotion, to be forsworn and stripped of knighthood was a purposefully traumatic experience. The king could make the determination to remove knighthood from a man, as could certain courts. In nearly all instances, the degraded man´s spurs were "hacked from his heels", his sword broken (sometimes over his head), his coat of arms burned, and his shield hung upside down in a church or other public place. Often this disgrace was matched with a death sentence, for such knights were often charged with and found guilty of treason. Treason, cowardice, and being forsworn were reasons often cited for the degradation, though it appears to have been rarely used.

In 1468, Sir Ralph Grey was taken to Doncaster where, being guilty of treason, his 'gold spurs were hew from his heels while his sword and all his armor were broken'.

The last public degradation was in 1621 at Westminster Hall, when Sir Francis Mitchell was found guilty of 'grievous exaction' and had his spurs broken and thrown away, his belt cut and his sword broken over his head. Finally, he was pronounced to be 'no longer a Knight but Knave'.

Other more recent examples of degradation from honors are when Sir Roger Casement had his knighthood canceled during the First World War for treason. He was later executed. In 1979 Sir Anthony Blunt, a former Surveyor of The Queen's pictures, also had his knighthood withdrawn for espionage.


Chivalry as a concept emerged around the 10th century AD in France when the Christian church began attempting to regulate the violence endemic to Frankish society. The term comes from the French word chevalier, or "knight", who derives his name from cheval, or horse. "Knights", or mounted heavy cavalry, had first been used by the Franks in the previous two centuries, perhaps as a response to Muslim invasions from Spain in the 8th century. Although the exact origins of the term "knight" are unknown?as cniht in Old English and knecht in German both refer to a "servant" or "bondsman"?the fact remains that the concept of a servant-soldier fighting on horseback is the central concept of chivalry; peasants need not apply. Then over time, because the Frankish clan structure combined with Western Christian practices, a martial elite arose which came to view violence as its primary and hereditary profession. It was this violence that the church attempted to regulate, giving rise to a code meant for those horse-bound "knights" which later became known as chivalry.

With the Duke of Normandy William the Bastard's invasion and subjugation of England in 1066. Before that time, there is no indication that chivalry as a concept existed in England as there was no strong tradition of horse-bound elite warfare. Although there were exceptions, the Anglo-Saxons as a rule fought on foot while the victorious Normans came with horses, moderately heavy armor, lances, and comparatively organized battle tactics. It was therefore the Norman elite with their social, cultural, economic, and political practices who would develop and perpetuate the chivalric lifestyle in England.

Knights promised to defend the weak, be courteous to all women, be loyal to their king, and serve God at all times. Knights were expected to be humble before others, especially their superiors. They were also expected to not "talk too much". In other words, they shouldn't boast. The code of chivalry demanded that a knight give mercy to a vanquished enemy.


A knight was expected to have not only the strength and skills to face combat in the violent Middle Ages but was also expected to temper this aggressive side of a knight with a chivalrous side to his nature. There was not an authentic Knights Code of Chivalry as such - it was a moral system which went beyond rules of combat and introduced the concept of Chivalrous conduct - qualities idealized by knighthood, such as bravery, courtesy, honor, and gallantry toward women.

Although we often refer to the "code of chivalry" in truth, there was no such thing as a uniform code of knightly behavior and attitude in the Middle Ages. Many people, from successful knights to contemplative philosophers, compiled lists of virtuous qualities, called the "knightly virtues" which they felt defined chivalry. No two were the same.

Knights Code of Chivalry dating back to the Dark Ages

The Knights Code of Chivalry was part of the culture of the Middle Ages and was understood by all. A Code of Chivalry was documented in 'The Song of Roland' in the Middle Ages Knights period of William the Conqueror who ruled England from 1066. The 'Song of Roland' describes the 8th century Knights of the Dark Ages and the battles fought by the Emperor Charlemagne. The code has since been described as Charlemagne's Code of Chivalry. The Song of Roland was the most famous 'chanson de geste' and was composed between 1098-1100, describing the betrayal of Count Roland at the hand of Ganelon, and his resulting death in the Pyranee Mountains at the hands of the Saracens. Roland was a loyal defender of his liege Lord Charlemagne and his code of conduct a description of the meaning of chivalry.

The Knights Code of Chivalry and the vows of Knighthood The Knights Code of Chivalry described in the Song of Roland and an excellent representation of the Knights Codes of Chivalry are as follows:

  • To fear God and maintain His Church To serve the liege lord in valor and faith
  • To protect the weak and defenseless
  • To give succor to widows and orphans
  • To refrain from the wanton giving of offense
  • To live by honor and for glory
  • To despise pecuniary reward
  • To fight for the welfare of all
  • To obey those placed in authority
  • To guard the honor of fellow knights
  • To eschew unfairness, meanness and deceit
  • To keep faith  At all times to speak the truth
  • To persevere to the end in any enterprise begun
  • To respect the honor of women
  • Never to refuse a challenge from an equal
  • Never to turn the back upon a foe

The origins of knighthood are said to date back to ancient Rome, where there was a knightly class Ordo Equestris (an order of mounted nobles). 

Ordo is applied to any body of men, who form a distinct class in the community, either by possessing distinct privileges, pursuing certain trades or professions, or any other way. Thus whole sacerdotal body at Rome is spoken as an Ordo.

A knighthood (or a damehood, its female equivalent) is one of the highest honors an individual in the United Kingdom can achieve.
While in past centuries knighthood used to be awarded solely for military merit, today it recognizes significant contributions to national life. 

Recipients today range from actors to scientists, and from school head teachers to industrialists.

A knighthood cannot be bought and it carries no military obligations to the Sovereign.

The Queen (or a member of the Royal Family acting on her behalf) confers knighthood in Britain, either at a public Investiture or privately.The ceremony involves the ceremonial dubbing of the knight by The Queen, and the presentation of insignia.

By tradition, clergy receiving a knighthood are not dubbed, as the use of a sword is thought inappropriate for their calling.Foreign citizens occasionally receive honorary knighthoods; they are not dubbed, and they do not use the style 'Sir'. 

In ceremony of knighting, the knight-elect kneels on a knighting-stool in front of The Queen, who then lays the sword blade on the knight's right and then left shoulder. After he has been dubbed, the new knight stands up, and The Queen invests the knight with the insignia of the Order to which he has been appointed.

Contrary to popular belief, the words 'Arise, Sir ...' are not used. 

Contemporary Pontiff Knighthood Orders

The Holy See has awarded the distinction of knighthood since the early medieval period. Such honors originally conferred nobility, personal or hereditary according to the rank, but today the Papal Orders are a means by which the Holy Father might personally distinguish those who have particularly served the Church and society.

The Papal Orders are awarded in the name of the Supreme Pontiff and are given both as awards of His Holiness of the Roman Catholic church and also as Sovereign of the Vatican city State. Membership at one time was conferred by Papal Bull, or by Apostolic Letter, signed by the Pope himself, but since the reforms made in the structure of these Orders at the beginning of the 20th century, the diplomas have been signed by the Cardinal Secretary of State.

The contemporary Pontiff Knighthood Orders are subdivided between civil and military Orders.

Those Military are: The Supreme Order of Christ and that of The Golden Spur.

Those Civil are: The Order of Piano, Saint Gregory The Great and Pope Saint Sylvester, who don?t have a military tradition, in fact the uniform has no military insignia, and resembles a diplomatic uniform.

The first two mentioned: The Supreme Order of Christ and that of The Golden Spur are awarded by The Pope himself, the others are awarded by the Apostolic Delegate.

The bestowing of Pontiff Honor is in the role of the Pope, as he is the supreme Head of The Vatican State in a territorial, spiritual and international nature.

Between 1870 and 1929 The Holy See had no control over territory but maintained the international spiritual nature has and the tradition of giving honor.

The Honors given by the Pope himself include: The Supreme of Christ (this rarely given distinction cannot strictly be characterized today as an Order of Knighthood, but more as an award of honor of the highest possible standing), The Golden Spur, The Order of Piano, The Orders of Saint Gregory The Great and of Pope Saint Sylvester.

The Honors given by the Apostolic Delegate are: The Order of The Equestrian Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and The Order of the Teutonic Knights of Saint Maria (which, although founded as Religious Military Order of Chivalry, since 1928 has been a purely Religious Order of Priests, Brothers and Sisters, with a category of twelve honorary knights and an unlimited number of associates, known as Marianer. Its headquarters are in Vienna).

The Teutonic Order survived the collapse of the Habsburg Empire by abandoning its "chivalric" character, retaining only its religious identity. Henceforth the only members of the Order have been professed religious brothers or sisters. The last Habsburg Grand Master resigned shortly after the First World War and the admission of knights to membership ceased immediately; today there are no survivors from the Habsburg era and the Order functions as a religious Order of the Church, operating principally in Austria, Germany, north Italy and parts of former Yugoslavia. The familiares, who are decorated with either the Knights Cross or the Marian Cross, are not members of the Order, but are lay associates rewarded for their services. The Marian familiares are sometimes called "Teutonic knights" but this is a misnomer and the only persons entitled to be so styled are the twelve "Knights of Honour" who have been specially distinguished by the award of the knight's Cross by the Hochmeister.


The authenticity or legitimacy of an order of chivalry and knighthood stems from its fons honorum ( fount of honor). To be considered as legitimate, such an order must not only have a fons honorum, but that fons honorum must meet certain criteria in order to have the historical authority to ?make knights? as it were.

In actuality most of the old orders are in fact revivals of previous orders, or were founded in the 19th and even 20th centuries. For example, the British Order of St. John of Jerusalem Knights of Malta were driven from Malta by Napoleon in the late 1700s only to splinter and reconstitute themselves in the 19th century. The Order of St. Lazarus was abolished on July 31, 1791, by a decree of the National Assembly signed by the King of France, and was only revived in the early 20th century  and was only officially granted its charter in 1888.

From the Middle Ages onwards, the Holy Roman Empire (HRE) was divided into about 300 entities each with practically sovereign rights, which were represented in the imperial parliament (Reichstag), and some 1500 minor lordships that had no other sovereign than the emperor.

The territories of the Imperial Knights (Reichsritterschaft) were immediately depending from the emperor (as kind of a protector). The Imperial Knights were divided into several chapters (Kreise): Swabia, Franconia, Rhenish, Alsatian chapter, the chapters were divided into cantons (Kantone).

In addition, there were many ecclesiastical institutions with limited sovereignty within the secular territories; they practiced jurisdiction and collected taxes in their small territories.

Italian Republic

In the Italian peninsula coexists four different sovereign states, that is, the Italian Republic, the State of Vatican City, the Republic of San Marino and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The honors awarded by these three institutions, together with the Orders of the House of Savoy and the Houses of per-unification states are part of the chivalrous and noble heritage of the Italians and represent the only legitimate Chivalric Orders historically and legally.

German nobility

The German nobility  was the elite hereditary ruling class or aristocratic class in the Holy Roman Empire and what is now Germany.

In Germany, all legitimate children of a nobleman became nobles themselves, and most titles passed onto all the children with few exceptions. All the children of sovereigns did not, of course, become kings or electors, but did become princes or princesses, dukes or duchesses, etc.

The German nobility as a legally defined class was abolished on August 11 1919 with the Weimar Constitution, when all Germans were made equal before the law, and any legal rights or privileges due to nobility ceased to exist.

The German nobility continues to play an important role in the various European nations that have not abolished the nobility. Most of the European royal families are descendants of the German nobility.

Today, there are many orders in both Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. Most of these resemble state orders which recognize personal status.


Centuries after the American and French revolutions, a global market flourishes in false titles of nobility and self-styled orders of chivalry. This occurrence is because it provide to a general common desire to feel virtuous about oneself, a sense of well-being dependent on the drive to assert one's distinctiveness and the yearning for recognition.

In the United States, as in other republics, the government awards decorations for valor and meritorious service but has no legal provision for orders of knighthood as such. Chivalric bodies are treated as private associations, registered as such with the state in which they have headquarters. The most sought-after status for American groups is that of a non-profit, tax-exempt charitable institution. Such status ignores whether or not a body is an authentic chivalrous order. In these circumstances it is easy to see why there has been indiscriminate use and abuse of the term, order of knighthood.

Although bona fide orders have been created out of private initiative for charitable, military or religious purposes, since the 19th century there have been a large number of orders created either to satisfy personal vanity, or to enrich a group of people (or both). Not all recently created orders of chivalry need be rebuked by such an assertion, but caveat emptor remains the rule.

For some time there has ranged within the confraternity community a debate concerning who is and who is not a real knight. Without question, those British Knights of the Garter and their brethren have inherited the title in an indisputable tradition extending unbroken back to Edward III in the 14th century. When the Queen of England confers a knighthood, it is in recognition of deeds done in service of Crown and Commonwealth.
The Knights of Saint John also have an intact lineage, running all the way back to the 12th century.The various modern fraternal organizations based on the Templar romance have a more debatable connection. Then there are the Knights of Columbus and similar organizations lies yet another tradition now more that thirty years old.
A Knight of Saint John, a Templar and the Knight of Columbus are members of close fraternal organizations whos aims are to achieve good works in the world and to provide an internally consistent system of values based on core religious beliefs common to  most of the world's population.
Lastly, many smaller groups use the concept of knighthood to inspire their members in some way and to build better people. In every instance the an accolade of knighthood now has little to do with the feudal structure and everything to do with a recognition of a particular kind of individual who has built their renown in the context of doing right.
Revived extinct orders.
These usually describe themselves as "military and hospitaller" and are given out by private individuals. The names of such bodies tend to be those of orders that once existed under the authority or protection of the Papacy or another sovereign ruler but no longer do so.

The phenomenon is even more serious considering that these initiatives, which are cleverly placed under historical religious institutions, are seen by most people, not as private bodies, which they in fact are, by as coming under aegis of the Church and the Holy See.

Dynastic Orders
Dubious dynastic orders and questionable private initiatives. Those originating such so-called orders may obtain, in an effort to acquire a semblance of respectability, the spiritual support and patronage of the Patriarch of an autocephalous Eastern Church. In addition to making unjustifiable historical claims about their origins, their promoters invariably assume bogus titles of nobility ostensibly showing them to be the heads of former reigning houses and thus genuine fountains of honor.
Self-styled" orders 
Self-styled orders are legion; some are imitations of extinct orders of knighthood, or even existing ones, created by self-appointed "princes" or "grand masters". What the leaders of these self-styled orders lack is the legal right of fons honorum. Some organizations have provided a false fons honorum to satisfy the need. In these cases, the founder or patron of the "order" has essentially assumed a false title of nobility in addition to assuming some sort of sovereignty, current or former.
The founders of such "Orders" are hoping to satisfy the ambitions of those anxious for recognition but whose personal standing or religious affiliation may have made them ineligible for membership in a genuine Order. Many of the members are sincere and respectable people deluded into believing that they were receiving a real "honor" and persuaded that, through their membership. The "self-styled orders" are membership organizations and have not been created by a State or a Monarch.

With few exceptions, self-styled orders began to arise in the middle of the eighteenth century, and they continue to emerge. Some are short-lived and only last a few decades. There are differing opinions about what principles or rules should be applied to distinguish an organization as a genuine chivalric order or a merely self-styled one.


False titles of nobility are supposed titles of nobility that have been fabricated and are not recognized by any government and were not so recognized in the past, even in countries in which titles of nobility once existed or still exist. They have received an increasing amount of press attention, as the number of schemes that attempt to sell these titles has increased. False titles are also sometimes connected to self-styled orders of chivalry.

All Royal and noble families became noble or royal at some point in the history. This came through various means, by peaceful purchase, by absolute force and by stratagem or trickery. Therefore, if a non-royal or non-noble person obtains a noble title, which was legally, officially and legitimately conveyed upon him or her and it was accepted and approved by the Sovereign Head of the appropriate family, then this person will be recognized as a noble or royal person of being the actual owner of a true and legitimate noble or royal title.

We remain stunned by the very large number of titles and honors which are reported on some Internet sites related to self-styled princes, descendants and pretenders. The profusion of principalities, dedications, decorations leaves most surprised by the fervid imagination of those who are fascinated by what they presume to be the monarchy and chivalry world than for the positions listed.

The alleged princes of today?s list of imaginative titles that have been created by its imaginative ancestors, stirring and mixing which are often used without real titles used by the genuine ancient rulers of state to which they refer. Sometimes, unfortunately, you can not even understand in which regions of the world are connected with the thrones of which is claimed to be the custodians, they do not report pedigrees or relationships; genealogies are sometimes broken and full of gaps that make them useless. And in general, even when apparently complete forms from father to son, a few precautions are sufficient for an expert to see if its names are fakes and added.

Furthermore, it is absurd to speak of ?Royal House in exile? because no government has issued sentences against the presumed princes. And is even humorous to define as Ambassador or Consul General, these titles are reserved to State and not to individuals. Not even a real King, non Head State, could grant them. Giving and receiving designations of this kind, means to be completely ignorant of law, history and heraldry.  

A self-style prince claims that has recognitions from the Pope, Queen Elizabeth II or some other royal.

Sovereignty is neither created by recognition nor destroyed by non recognition.? (The New Encyclopedia Britannica, edition 15, part 3, vol 17, 1981, p. 312) International law denies that diplomatic or political recognition confers sovereignty. Also, in the past many title holders purposely wrote letters to various royals and got them to write back using their titles. Practically all royals and most orders did not investigate the claims of those who join. Such letters are merely courtesies, courtesy letters, not certifications of fact. They do not make a claim true or false.

Many title holders, by getting so-called apostolic blessings from the Pope from various companies, who do not check anything out, but use whatever name or title you give them, thus making it look like the Pope has certified them as real. This same phony ploy was used with Queen Elizabeth II, who gets thousands of letters each day and tries to return every single letter. No one has time to check them out. They use the identifying information they are given to write back. Obviously, such a letter or blessing certificate is meaningless in terms of title, validity and authenticity.  

In addition, self-styled princes love to honor each other thinking that somehow, this makes their claims real and genuine.

Changes of name

Some companies purport to sell unsuspecting individuals a title when in fact they do no more than offer them the facility to change their name. Such an individual adopts the purported title, e.g. "Sir" or "Lord", as a forename rather than receiving any formal title. The Identity and Passport Service is aware of this scam and will place an official observation in the individual's passport stating that the purported title is a name rather than the person's title. In essence, such an individual becomes Mr. Sir John Smith or Mr. Lord John Smith, for example, as their title has in fact not changed at all.

The act of legally changing one's name to add a title by deed poll or some other method does not create a legitimate or authentic title. This is make believe or phony.

Become the Laird, Lord or Lady of Glencoe, etc.

The purchase of land in Scotland is not sufficient, per se, to qualify anyone to legally use the title of Laird.  The title ?Lord? is a ?Peerage title? (or a courtsy title of a Scottish ?Law Lord?) and although it is true to say that the word Laird does derive from Lavert, which is the same root as the word Lord, a genuinely recognized Laird, is a member of the Nobilitas Minora, whereas those who are legally entitled to call themselves Lord, belong to the Nobilitas Majora, or the Peerage.  The two terms are certainly not interchangeable.

A Lairdship is, in itself, a title which is linked to the Land, but for it to become a title and part of the name of the individual who owns the land, it is necessary to petition Scotland?s supreme herald, the Lord Lyon King of Arms, for the title to be officially recognized.  The Lord Lyon does not actually recognize anyone as a Laird

Fake Lairdships

Several websites, and internet vendors on websites like Ebay, sell Scottish Lairdships along with small plots of land. The Court of the Lord Lyon considers these particular titles to be meaningless because it is impossible to have numerous ?Lairds? of a single Estate at the same time, as has been advertised by these companies. According to Richard Bridgeman, 7th Earl of Bradford, these sellers have an income of $2,918,520 per acre of poor land, which could probably be purchased for about $100. W.R.B. Cunninghame Graham of Gartmore has doubts about such companies' claims of conservation of nature, as there are not independent proofs of it. Some of these sellers enclose with the deed a coat of arms, which is not authorized by the Lord Lyon, and it is unlawful in Scotland to use or display any arms unauthorized by the Lord Lyon. The most recent advice from the Lord Lyon specifically states that this designation is not appropriate to the owner of a souvenir plot, such as sold in these schemes.

The Court of the Lord Lyon, also known as the Lyon Court or Lyon Office, is a standing court of law which regulates heraldry in Scotland. Like the College of Arms in England it maintains the register of grants of arms, known as the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland, as well as records of genealogies.

The Lyon Court is a public body, and the fees for grants of arms are paid to HM Treasury. It is headed by the Lord Lyon King of Arms, who must be legally qualified, as he has criminal jurisdiction in heraldic matters, and the court is fully integrated into the Scottish legal system, including having a dedicated prosecutor, known in Scotland as a Procurator Fiscal.

Clan Member

A member of a clan is not noble title. A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship and descend. Even if actual lineage patterns are unknown, clan members may nonetheless recognize a founding member or apical ancestor. The Kinship-based bonds may be merely symbolical in nature, whereby the clan shares a "stipulated" common ancestor that is a symbol of the clan's unity.

This is a list of Official Clans and Families registered by the Court of the Lord Lyon. Should you not find your name in here, then is either a Sept of one of the official clans or else it is not recognized as being an official clan.

Official Scottish Clans and Families:


Micronations, sometimes also referred to as model countries and new country projects, are entities that claim to be independent nations or states but which are not recognized by world governments or major international organizations.

Micronations are also distinguished from imaginary countries and from other kinds of social groups (such as Eco-villages, campuses, tribes, clans, sects, and residential community associations) by expressing a formal and persistent, even if unrecognized, claim of sovereignty over some physical territory.

Several micro-nations have issued coins, flags, postage stamps, passports, medals, and other items, which are rarely accepted outside of their own community.

No micronation has any real, genuine or authentic right to bestow titles of nobility or bestow knighthoods. They are fantasy countries---"These nations usually exist only on paper, on the Internet, or in the minds of their creators."  They have no recognized or actual authority.

Religious Organizations

A new approach to the traffic in titles is for a religious or secular organization to claim that it can ?restore " ancient titles of nobility or royalty for a modern person who might be in the "family line"--and, of course, an exchange of money is part of the "restoration." However, a religious organization cannot "rehabilitate" a secular title. Indeed, a secular organization, even a royal house, cannot "restore" a title over which it had no original control.

Moreover, one must also be very wary of any religious organization claiming to be a "church" and which claims authority to grant titles of royalty or nobility.

The scholar of the subject are well aware of this deplorable phenomenon, however, these ?pseudo-orders? often take place abroad, outside the territory of the legitimate orders, so be cautious before joining these orders. We appeal especially to the young and unaware people, who with the desire to wear an evening ensigna, perhaps for parties or even if only content themselves by seeking or accepting nor truly beneficial pseudo-type decorations.

To add a few more considerations about the so-called independent Knightly Orders, because the intimate history of equestrian institutions can only be considered by recalling the imprimatur of the Holy See, even if this aegis, being an independent Order, and therefore autonomous from States and Nations, has no value except psychological.

Official Statement of the Holy See on Self-Styled Orders

Fraternity Organizations

Fraternities are by definition merely, "a group of people sharing a common profession or interests." It is an organization, which can be called an "order," like the" Knight of Columbus" but is not a true or authentic order of chivalry. Sovereignty does not and never did exist in these organizations.

Private Titles and Decorations

Private titles, knighthoods and decorations received in a club, fraternity, church or other organization are not to be used in public or on the internet unless qualified as private. Such titles, knighthoods and decorations are not genuine and authentic, outside of the organizations that made them, because they have nothing to do with the bona fide and real nobility or royalty.

Having an honorary degree is okay, but when it is from a fraternity, Martial Arts, club or confederation posing as a university, it is not right to use it publicly. Honorary degrees must come from a bona fide or genuine university, otherwise, they are private titles, not to be used publicly except among members of their fraternity, club, confederation or people who know that the title is just pretend for their group only. Otherwise, it is misleading.
Another analogy, is how some churches and some history and re-enactment groups, make princes, dukes, counts, knights, ladies and gentlemen out of their followers. Obviously, this only creates private organization honors, not real authentic secular ones. For such a person to use his title of count publicly would be deceitful. To use it privately only as involved with the club he is with would be proper.

MARTIAL ARTS ORGANIZATIONS DEGREES "These degrees are not to be confused with traditional academic degrees." Therefore, any titles from this group are not to be used publicly. To do otherwise, would be misleading people into thinking one had a true academic title, which is obviously not the case. These degrees are not academic degrees and are only used privately.

Traditional leaders

Traditional leaders are limited to a status of a recognized traditional leader of an indigenous people or a group of peoples.They still appear as Kings and Queens according to their traditions and as authorized by the said agreements. They are Honorary Kings so to speak and as such absolutely genuine.They still appear as Kings and Queens according to their traditions and as authorized by the said agreements.  

Although the authorities tend to cooperate with these traditional leaderships, they are, in most cases, not a formal part of the hosting government system nor are they authorized to exercise any real governmental powers and traditional leaders are not subject to international law.

Traditional leaders grants honorific titles to persons working within the leadership, corresponding to the ancient governmental, noble and royal titles used in the kingdom when it was a de facto or de jure sovereign entity. These titles are purely honorific and must not be understood or even used as titles of nobility or Royalty under international law.

Honorific Titles

Honorific titles are generally a sign of respect, and run the gamut from everyday life, clergy and the monarchy to military and academia. Such titles may or may not be tied to a person's achievements; some connote a rank the individual has reached in society or within his organization, while others recognize contributions a person has made to a particular field.

All major Universities and Religions today bestow Honorary Degrees upon the Rich and Famous for huge sums of money they donate or bring through their association with that organization. Rarely will these major groups give equally deserving persons of lesser means such recognition.

An university may bestow the Distinguished Professor title to full professors to recognize exceptional academic achievement in a field. It may be based on teaching, reputation or scholarly work.
Anyone that has bestowed upon them the Degree of Doctorate whether it is accredited, or honorary, has the right to use the title of Doctor before their name. They have the right to be addressed as such. They have the right to place the title on letterheads, cards, and any form of written correspondence. They have the privilege of meritorious a Honorary Degrees are also bestowed on persons that, through Life experiences, deserve recognition. It is often not the title that matters so much as the individuals right to be recognized.
The military often bestows military titles to non personnel who have distinguished themselves either within or beyond the military.
Other titles, while honorific, reflect a status a person has achieved within a certain field of work. A judge is referred to as "your honor" as a sign of respect. "Captain" is another example of an honorary title that relates to respect, such as the captain of an airplane.

Fons Honorum 

In recent decades a degree of confusion seems to have developed over who may bestow honors; this is at least partly due to the emergence of hundreds of false orders.

Today the legitimate founts of honor who may bestow knighthood are the lawful heads of existing states, heads of non-reigning royal (sovereign) dynasties recognized at the time of the Congress of Vienna in 1814 (hence the numerous German dynasties but not the many soi-disant "pretenders" to the long-vacant Throne of Constantinople), the Holy See (the Papacy), certain de jure governments in exile, a few Orthodox Christian patriarchs and bishops, and the grand masters of a few historical military-religious orders of chivalry (the Order of Malta most notably).

We should also observe that these institutions, when they belonged to the dynastic wealth of previously reigning families, were able to reaffirm their position not only historically but also legally.

In fact, international law recognizes the institution of pretender to the throne, which arises if the debellatio is missing, i.e. the loss of sovereignty by waiving right to one?s functions and relative prerogatives involved with exercising power, because the sovereign, no matter how he is dethroned, maintains the right to certain manifestations of reigning power: thus sovereign titles are due to the sovereign as such and his descendents, and remain thus even when he has lost his sovereignty over land, because sovereignty belongs to the family wealth (even if it is deprived of the jus gladii, i.e. the right to obedience by the subjects; the jus majestatis, i.e. the right to respect and honors due his rank; and the jus imperii, i.e. the power of command).

This means that a sovereign could be dethroned and banished from the country, but he could never lose his native qualities: thus the pretender to the throne arises, who maintains intact all the sovereignty rights as long as their application does not obstacle the changed juridical-institutional position, while the others are suspended. Among the conserved rights is the jus honorum, i.e. the right to grant noble titles and ranks of knightly orders possessed or inherited that are part of the personal and dynastic wealth of the lineage.

When a knightly order conforms to international law, it has the legitimate right to grant honors on a par with any national State.


Perhaps you always have dreamed of putting "Sir" or "Lady" in front of your name. You may have dallied with the thought of accepting a knighthood, but perhaps you wanted a title that came with land or a seat in parliament. With the number of monarchies in the world dwindling, you will probably need to move and change your citizenship, if you are not already living under a monarchy.

The custom of granting noble titles began well before Medieval times when society had very definite lines separating poor commoners from richer landowners.  Many kings and queens believed that by bestowing a title upon certain subjects, this act would make them owe lifelong allegiance to the monarchy. Titles of nobility bestowed ranged from Lord and Lady, Count and Countess to Baron and Baroness, and Viscount and Viscountess. But in the 21st century, having a noble title may seem impressive, but in reality nobility does not guarantee an individual any tangible benefits.

King Felipe VI of Spain favors artists and politicians when he is granting titles of nobility, but you will have to become a citizen of Spain in order to qualify for the lofty recognition of being granted the titles of Baron or Duke.

 Learn Spanish and move to Madrid. King Juan Carlos of Spain still has the power to grant titles of nobility, and historically, he has chosen prominent politicians and artists. Become a citizen of Spain and excel in the arts or work your way up through regional parliaments to the federal senate. If you make it to Prime Minister and the king likes you, you are likely to get a title like baron or higher. Don Adolfo Suárez y González was granted the title of First Duke of Suarez in recognition of his service as prime minister.

Becoming a subject of the British Empire is the second route to nobility. Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain made Margaret Thatcher a baroness when she served as prime minister, but Tony Blair was not offered a title. You might have a better chance of getting yourself adopted by a childless noble family, however noble titles distributed in the past quarter century have been very scarce.


What makes becoming a noble in the United Kingdom tricky is that Queen Elizabeth II is only in the habit of granting new knighthoods lately, and technically, that's not a title of nobility. The only British citizens to have been offered new titles of nobility in the past few decades were all prime ministers, and that's a longer, harder road with less likelihood of becoming a noble than in Spain.

Noble?s titles are given by King Albert II of Belgium on an annual basis, but only to Belgian citizens.  Albert is known for honoring people in a wide range of occupations who have distinguished themselves, including statesmen, businessmen, athletes, scientists and entertainers.

You will need to move to Brussels and learn French. You may eventually have to learn Dutch/Flemish as well because it is spoken by most Northern Belgians. Once you have the languages mastered, you will need to become a Belgian citizen.

 If you are looking on a title of nobility in Norway, Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands, you just have to fall in love with the right person, someone who already has a noble title because these countries are no longer granting new titles, whether you are a state citizen or not.

The internet is full with various companies purporting to offer noble titles for a price, which can run into the thousands of dollars, but not all of these enterprises are legitimate. Your vanity may get you a certificate along with a noble sounding title but not nothing else. Such titles are worthless and are not Internationally recognition.These titles are not legitimate or authentic title of nobility.

No International Body Exists

Although not recognized by any international treaty, some independent organization exists that seeks to provide criteria against which to judge Orders of Chivalry or Nobility, though neither their decisions nor the criteria they employs to reach those decisions are universally accepted. These Organizations have no standing in international law and may not be acknowledged by any present government.

Since no qualified international body exists to lay down guidelines by which to judge the legitimacy of orders of knighthood, and so long as these render worthwhile and measurable service there is no reason why they should not be socially tolerated. So long, of course, as they do not make false claims about their origins, do not pretend to be what they are not, and do not violate the laws of the countries in which they operate.

Certain other organizations (such as the Augustan Society or Noble Dynasty, which state publicly that it is not a chivalric order) that may appear to have a chivalric character, nevertheless carefully distinguish themselves from legitimate orders of chivalry, thus differentiating themselves from self-styled orders.

For example, the highest Order of Chivalry in the power of the Vatican to confer is the most distinguished and rare Papal Order of Christ, yet the Order of Christ is not "recognized" within the boundaries of Great Britain, which is not a Roman Catholic country does not recognize this distinguished Papal Order. Great Britain "recognizes" the Vatican as a City-State and has exchanged ambassadors.

The Prince of Monaco confers, from time to time, the Order of Grimaldi, a most coveted knighthood, yet the distinguished dynastic and rarely-conferred Order is not "recognized" by any government other than Monaco itself. 

There are a number of orders of knighthood, such as the Knights of Columbus, which have no background in chivalry, but are nonetheless worthwhile organizations. These are usually fraternal organizations. People in these organizations can be called knights, but it is not quite the same thing as being granted a title by monarch or historical order of chivalry. 

The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization. Founded in the United States in 1882, it is named in honor of Christopher Columbus. There are more than 1.8 million members in 15,000 councils, with nearly 200 councils on college campuses. 

The Constantinian Order is recognized as a non-profit charitable organization in several nations (for example in Italy, the United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland). Such recognition does not constitute a juridical position regarding its history or the headship of the royal family. Most nations do not take a strong official position regarding headship of a non-regnant dynasty after the exiled sovereign is deceased, especially if diplomatic relations exist with a successor state. Over the years, both Infante Carlos and Prince Ferdinando have bestowed the Order of Saint Januarius (San Gennaro) and the Collar of the Constantinian Order on various pretenders and exiled monarchs. King Umberto II of Italy accepted both distinguished orders from the Neapolitan (not the Spanish) grand master.

To discourse about Chivalry and Knightly Orders today could seem out of date and in contrast with current political, philosophical and social orientation ? fed and developed in logic of demagogic egalitarianism ? which wants to deny History and Traditions.

Knights are not just a thing of the past

There are a number of chivalric Orders that exist today. The British monarchy still grants knighthoods, as does the Papacy and the Knights of Malta (Order of St. John).

The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta (Italian: Sovrano Militare Ordine Ospedaliero di San Giovanni di Gerusalemme di Rodi e di Malta), also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), Order of Malta or Knights of Malta, is a Roman Catholic laity religious order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature. It is the world's oldest surviving order of chivalry. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is headquartered in Rome, Italy, and is widely considered a sovereign subject of international law.

It is evident in all the different clubs and societies that are formed to attempt to recreate knighthood. We also see the honor of knighthood being cheapened, by titles being bestowed on undeserving individuals. In the meantime the true knights go largely unobserved, and unappreciated.

The traditional role of the knight was to defend the defenseless, to be pious in worship and in dealings with others, and to maintain one?s personal honor above all costs. Such knightly values might seem out of place in the 21s century, with so much emphasis on money and materialism but a few individuals still believe life is truly not worth living unless it serves a higher purpose. These are the groups of men and women that we are seeking to join The Caputo Historical Families Association and to receive the "Laurus Nobilis Award".

For those men and women who wish to dedicate their lives to a higher purpose, who believe that knightly qualities are still relevant in this modern age, The Caputo Historical Families Association invites you to join our prestige International Organization.


We recommend that all members of our Association to pay attention to the alleged institutions that are nothing more than pseudo-chivalric orders, which also wish to qualify as: Order of Malta, S. Sepulchre, S. John, Kings, Ecumenical, etc.. Just to mention that most imitations rage, to mislead the unwary and adepts, by creating confusion in relation to the legitimate Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George, etc.

Genuine Orders

The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta 

(Italian: Sovrano Militare Ordine Ospedaliero di San Giovanni di Gerusalemme di Rodi e di Malta), also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), Order of Malta or Knights of Malta, is a Roman Catholic lay religious order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature. It is the world's oldest surviving order of chivalry. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is headquartered in Rome, Italy, and is widely considered a sovereign subject of international (Official Web site:

Drawing Coat of Arms with special permit of the Author: Mathieu CHAINE.


The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem 

(lat.: Ordo Equestris Sancti Sepulcri HierosolymitaniOESSH) is a Roman Catholic order of knighthood under the protection of the pope. It traces its roots to Duke Godfrey of Bouillon, principal leader of the First Crusade. In 1496, Pope Alexander VI created the office of Grand Master of the Order, and the office vested in the papacy. The office of Grand Master remained vested in the papacy until 1949. Since then a cardinal has been grand master. The Pope is sovereign of the Order, and it enjoys the protection of the Holy See and has its legal seat at Vatican City. (Official Vatican Web site:

Drawing Coat of Arms with special permit of the Author: Mathieu CHAINE.


The Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George 

The Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George is a Roman Catholic order of chivalry. It was fictively established by Constantine the Great, though in reality it was founded between 1520 and 1545 by two brothers of the Angeli Comneni family. Members of the Angeli Comneni family remained grand masters throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In 1699 Francesco Farnese, Duke of Parma was recognized as grand master. In 1731, his son and successor, Antonio Farnese, Duke of Parma, died without male heirs. He was succeeded by the first Bourbon grand master Charles, Duke of Parma (later King Charles III of Spain). Since that time members of the House of Bourbon have been grand masters of the order. (Web site: and


The Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus 

The Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus is an order of chivalry awarded by the House of Savoy, the heads of which were formerly Kings of Italy. The order was formed by a union of the original Order of St Lazarus and the Order of Saint Maurice in 1572. The generally-accepted Grand Master of the Order is Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples, the current head of the House of Savoy. In 2006, Vittorio Emanuele's cousin, Amedeo of Aosta, declared himself Head of the Savoy dynasty and thus Grand Master de jure. For this reason the grand magistracy is now contested.

Nobiliary laws and Regulations

In some countries the nobility is a subject of public law (Belgium, Finland, Netherlands, and in Spain only regarding the titled nobility). In other countries this is not the case, and then the nobility may have organized itself in one or more associations in order to have an institution to handle nobiliary issues. It is therefore of the utmost importance for every noble family to define and clarify under which legislation, or under which set of rules or regulations whether codified or not, they are a subject.

Nobiliary law is a complex and multifaceted subject. It is often necessary to do extensive research in order to establish which rules apply to a specific noble family. A starting place can be to collect relevant literature from (or about) the country where the family is known (or believed) to have been ennobled (or first recognized as noble).

Maybe the most important thing to remember about nobiliary law is that it is not the same as public law. It may well be possible, according to national legislation, for a non-noble person to assume a noble surname, but this does not make him member of the nobility. A person can only be a member of the nobility if they are so according to nobiliary law, whether this is in harmony with public law or not.

The world is full of critics but we welcome you to write to us and make your comments. Additions and corrections will be gratefully accepted, information, addresses or photos are welcome.

          What are the advantages of being knighted?

What the title means in this day in age? Before this meant that the person stood up for the morals and values in the Medieval time, and would upon being called upon would fight for the country. Generally, they would have wealth and land, there-by being able to provide their own arms and armor.

Today, there are not really any benefits as such these days apart from having respect and honor which may ensure your legacy, however in the eyes of the law and probably even employment you will be treated the same as anyone else.  Apart of that, you can’t really distinguish yourself and even then, most people with Knighthoods were well known prior to their Knighthood as several famous people have refused a Knighthood e.g. Stephen Hawking etc. Professor Stephen Hawking has revealed that he turned down the offer of a knighthood. The scientist has released correspondence showing that he was approached with the offer of a knighthood but refused it on principle. Professor Hawking has also revealed correspondence showing harsh criticism of what he sees as the UK government's mismanagement of science funding. He is particularly critical of the merger of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council and the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils.

In most cases, the offer of an honor was rejected privately; others were rejected publicly, or accepted and then returned later based upon future events, as with John Lennon and Rabindranath Tagore. Nowadays, potential recipients are contacted by government officials, well before any public announcement is made, to confirm in writing whether they wish to be put forward for an honor, thereby avoiding friction or controversy. However, some let it be known the offer was declined, and there are also occasional leaks from official sources.

In the past, a Knighthood would have made you a person of extreme importance and your status would make you essentially “blue-blooded” and royalty. The reason why a Knighthood is of less importance in the contemporary Monarchy is of overall less importance these days. The Queen of England, for example, has a ceremonial position despite officially being Head of State she has no real power but her position is more of a tradition.