FAQs

FAQs2022-08-12T17:38:05+00:00

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does another Prince of the Two Sicilies currently dispute the rights of the Grand Master?2022-08-12T14:44:38+00:00

A junior prince of the Two Sicilies dynasty, HRH Prince Charles of Bourbon Two Sicilies (whose assumed title of Duke of Castro has been recognized by the Duke of Calabria), claims to be Grand Master of the Constantinian Order and Head of the Royal House of the Two Sicilies, in place of the legitimate Grand Master, HRH Prince Don Pedro, Duke of Calabria.

The Duke of Castro’s mistaken claim to be Constantinian Grand Master can be disposed of quickly.

HRH Prince Pedro, Duke of Calabria, is the senior descendant by male primogeniture of Ferdinand I, Constantinian Grand Master and King of the Two Sicilies, and is thus the Constantinian Grand Master.  (See the response above to the question “How is the Grand Master chosen?”). The Duke of Castro, as a member of a cadet line of the dynasty, is today only 6th in the line of male primogeniture descent from Ferdinand I. 

The Castro claim derives from an unfortunate dispute within the Two Sicilies dynasty that dates back more than 60 years.  In 1960, the undisputed Head of the Two Sicilies Royal House and undisputed Constantinian Grand Master, Prince Don Ferdinand Pio, Duke of Calabria, died without surviving male issue. His next brother, Prince Don Carlo, had died before him, leaving one surviving son, Prince Don Alfonso, Infante of Spain, who succeeded as dynastic head and Duke of Calabria (and was immediately recognized as such by the Heads of the Royal Houses of Spain, Parma and Portugal, among others).  A junior prince of the Two Sicilies dynasty, Prince Rainieri (grandfather of the present Duke of Castro), challenged the dynastic succession.  Rainieri claimed to have become both dynastic head and Constantinian grand master.

As has already been explained, any claim that the Constantinian Order grand mastership is united with the Two Sicilies Crown is entirely mistaken.  (See the response above to the question “How is the Grand Master chosen?”).

  

The Duke of Castro’s claim to be Head of the Royal House of the Two Sicilies, while also mistaken, is more complicated to address.  A detailed treatment of the flaws in his claim is beyond the scope of this website, which is dedicated to the Constantinian Order, but a brief mention of a couple of key points may be helpful to the reader.

The Castro claim derives from a declaration, called the Act of Cannes, signed in 1900 by HRH Prince Carlo of the Two Sicilies, great-grandfather of the current Grand Master, HRH Prince Pedro, shortly before Carlo’s marriage to the Princess of the Asturias, the heiress to the throne of Spain.  In essence, as discussed below, the Act of Cannes specified that Prince Carlo renounced his eventual rights to the Two Sicilies Crown in the event he were to become King Consort of Spain.

King Charles III of Spain in his Pragmatic Decree of 1759 confirmed the right of all his male line descendants to both thrones, but prohibited the union of the Spanish Crown with that of the Two Sicilies in one person, in order to preserve the European balance of power. The Act of Cannes expressly stated that it was signed “in execution of the Pragmatic Decree [of 1759]”, and “in accord with the laws and customs of our family” which merely prohibited the union of the two crowns.  The Act of Cannes was intended to address a possible future event: what would happen if the Princess of the Asturias became Queen Regnant of Spain and her husband Don Carlo King Consort of Spain and at the same time King of the Two Sicilies.  If this condition were to occur, Don Carlo would have had to renounce his Two Sicilies rights to a younger son. (There were many instances of marriages between princes and princesses of both kingdoms between 1759 and 1960 without any consideration of the possibility that these might prejudice the rights of their descendants. In 1900, weeks before Carlo’s marriage, the Spanish Minister of Justice had stated in the Spanish parliament, the Cortes, that there was no need for any renunciations by either Prince Don Carlo or his future wife, and if one was made it would in any case by null and void.) It should also be pointed out that the purpose of the 1759 Decree was to prevent the union of two sovereignties, of Spain and the Two Sicilies, and that the Crown of the Two Sicilies had ceased to exist in 1860; there was no mention of the position of head of the royal house in the Act of Cannes.

In the event, the Princess of the Asturias never became Queen of Spain and her husband never became King Consort.  Therefore, the possible event on which the conditional renunciation of Prince Carlo was predicated never came to pass.  Thus, the Act of Cannes did not prejudice any of the Two Sicilies rights of Prince Carlo and his descendants.  A conditional declaration is of no effect if the condition on which it is based does not occur.

It is important to note that the Act of Cannes pertains solely to the Two Sicilies succession and has no relevance to the separate position of Grand Master of the Constantinian Order, which is not even mentioned in the 1900 text.

Some of the most prominent legal scholars of various countries have analyzed the Act of Cannes and come to the same conclusion: namely, that it did not remove any of the Two Sicilies rights of Prince Carlo and his descendants.  For those who wish to read further about this issue, click here for a publication of the Spanish government, the Boletin Oficial del Estado – see page 477 and following for the report of the Spanish Council of State):  https://www.boe.es/biblioteca_juridica/abrir_pdf.php?id=PUB-DH-2019-149_2

The legality of the succession of Prince Don Pedro’s father, the late Prince and Infante Don Carlos, Duke of Calabria, to the Headship of the Royal House of the Two Sicilies and the Constantinian Grand Mastership was in 1983 and 1984 investigated by five of the highest Spanish State bodies, and all (headed by the Council of State) reported unanimously to the King of Spain that Don Carlos, Duke of Calabria was the legitimate heir to both dignities. For those who wish to read further about these investigations, click here for the reports of the five Spanish Institutions of State (the Institute of Heraldry and Genealogy; the Royal Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry of Justice; and the Council of State):  [ADD LINK]

More recently, on 28 November 2014 the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared the Constantinian Order and the Order of St. Januarius to be “under the protection and historically tied to the Crown of Spain” and on 2 June 2017 a further declaration by the Ministry confirmed that the Constantinian Order and the Order of St Januarius are “historically tied to the Crown of Spain”. This “historic” tie was because King Charles III of Spain was Constantinian grand master even after he became King of Spain (he succeeded as King of Spain on 10 August 1759 and resigned as Constantinian grand master on 16 October 1759), and he retained the grand mastership of the Order of St. Januarius (which he had founded in 1738) until December 1766.

What is the connection between the Constantinian Order and the Royal House of Bourbon of the Two Sicilies?2022-08-12T14:43:43+00:00

Since 1759, the position of Constantinian Grand Master has passed by strict male primogeniture among the descendants of King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies.

Although all Constantinian Grand Masters from 1759 to the present have been members of the Royal House of the Two Sicilies, the Constantinian Order is not a chivalric order of the House of the Two Sicilies but is instead a dignity separate and independent from the House of the Two Sicilies – the inheritance of the heir of the Farnese dynasty. The Constantinian Order is subject to the authority of the Holy See, and its character as a religious order with an hereditary grand master (a position based in canon law) has been repeatedly confirmed by Popes from the 16th to the 20th centuries.  (See the response above to the question “How is the Grand Master chosen?”).

How is the Grand Master chosen?2022-08-12T14:43:17+00:00

The succession to the position of Grand Master of the Order is unique, in that it passes by male primogeniture within the Royal House of Bourbon as heirs of the Farnese family.

In 1698, the grand mastership of the Order was acquired by Francesco Farnese, Duke of Parma. Pope Innocent XII’s apostolic brief, Sincerae Fidei, in 1699 and Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I’s imperial decree Agnoscimus et notum facimus of the same year, confirmed to Francesco Farnese and his heirs the position of Grand Master, as a dignity separate and apart from the House of Farnese’s sovereignty over the Duchy of Parma.

In 1705, the Farnese grand master granted the Order new statutes, approved the following year by the Pope, which incorporated the requirement that the grand mastership pass by male primogeniture, a requirement confirmed again in the 1718 papal bull Militantis Ecclesiae. 

In 1731, the House of Farnese died out in the male line.  The positions both of Grand Master of the Constantinian Order and Duke of Parma then passed, as separate dignities, to Prince Charles of Bourbon, Infant of Spain, heir of the House of Farnese as the eldest son of Elisabeth Farnese by her husband, King Philip V of Spain.  Charles was forced to surrender the Duchy of Parma in 1736, but he retained the separate position of Grand Master of the Constantinian Order and continued to administer the Constantinian Order’s Parma estates and membership, despite no longer being sovereign duke. 

Charles’s succession as Grand Master of the Constantinian Order occurred in 1731.  He became King of Naples and Sicily in 1734.

In 1759, the same Charles, still King of Naples and Sicily, ascended the throne of Spain in succession to his childless half-brother. He thereupon abdicated the thrones of Naples and Sicily to his second surviving son, Ferdinand (hereafter referred to, for the sake of simplicity, as King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies). Some ten days later, he abdicated the position of Constantinian Grand Master to the same Ferdinand.  In his Constantinian abdication, he delegated to his son Ferdinand the position of “first born Farnese heir”, as this was a necessary condition of Ferdinand’s becoming Grand Master.

These separate abdications in 1759 underlined the fact that the Constantinian Order and its grand mastership were separate from the Crowns of Naples and Sicily (later the Crown of the Two Sicilies).  Charles’s abdication of the thrones of Naples and Sicily when he became King of Spain was in execution of the Pragmatic Decree of 1759, which specified that the Crown of Naples and the Crown of Spain must not be united under the same head.  The Pragmatic Decree was intended to address questions concerning the balance of power in Europe, and was enacted under the provisions of two international treaties (in 1737 and 1759).

For his part, King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies confirmed the independence of the Constantinian Order from the Crowns of Naples and Sicily in a 1796 decree, which stated in part:  In his (Ferdinand’s) royal person there exists two very distinct qualities, the one of monarch of the Two Sicilies, and the other of grand master of the illustrious, royal and military Constantinian Order, which though united gloriously in the same person form nonetheless at the same time two separate independent lordships.

At the time Ferdinand became grand master, the Holy See recognized that succession to the position of Constantinian grand master, a dignity based in canon law, was separate from other positions, such as the secular position of King of Naples and Sicily. The Holy See recognized this again in 1860, when the Two Sicilies dynasty lost its crown.  Indeed, the Holy See continued to accord privileges and recognition to the Constantinian Order for decades after the kingdom of the Two Sicilies ceased to exist. 

The Order’s Statutes of 1919, confirmed by the Holy See, and the revised Statutes of 1934-43 in the articles governing the succession to the grand mastership, state explicitly that the “dignity of Grand Master, reserved to the House of Bourbon, as heirs of the House of Farnese, is transmitted by male primogeniture.”

The Order’s Royal Deputation in 1935 issued a lengthy historical statement in which the separate nature of the Order from the Crown was emphasized.

Since the accession of King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies to the position of Constantinian Grand Master in 1759, the Constantinian grand mastership has passed by strict male primogeniture among his direct descendants in the male line of the House of Bourbon.

The present Grand Master, HRH Prince Pedro of Bourbon, Prince of the Two Sicilies, Duke of Calabria succeeded his father as Grand Master in 2015.  Prince Pedro is the senior descendant of King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies by male primogeniture.  The Grand Master’s heir is his eldest son, HRH Prince Jaime, Duke of Noto and Grand Prefect of the Constantinian Order.

Who is the Grand Master of the Constantinian Order of St. George?2022-08-12T14:42:46+00:00

The Grand Master of the Constantinian Order is His Royal Highness Prince Don Pedro of Bourbon Two Sicilies, Duke of Calabria.

His Royal Highness holds several dignities.

He is Grand Master of the Constantinian Order by right of male primogeniture, as the senior male line descendant of King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies, Grand Master of the Constantinian Order.

Separately, he is Head of the formerly reigning Royal House of the Two Sicilies, according to the succession laws of that dynasty.  He is therefore the grand master of that dynasty’s chivalric order, the Order of St. Januarius (San Gennaro).

He is also a member of the Family of the King of Spain.  He faithfully carries out all duties assigned to him by King Felipe VI, his second cousin, including the duties of President of the Council of the four Spanish military orders (the Orders of Santiago, Calatrava, Alcántara and Montesa). 

(The Constantinian Order and the Order of St. Januarius are treated in the same way as the Orders of Malta and the Holy Sepulchre in the Spanish honors system.) 

What are the charitable endeavors of the Constantinian Order?2022-08-12T14:42:24+00:00

In the 16th and 17th centuries the Order had religious houses in northern Italy and Spain; the members, who were mostly professed knights, carried out works of charity.  Even before the acquisition of the grand mastership by Francesco Farnese, knights of the Order had been engaged in the defense of Vienna under command of King Jan Sobieski; then, under Francesco Farnese it took on a larger military mission, establishing a military college to train young officers. The Constantinian Regiment sent in 1716 to fight the Ottoman occupation of the Balkans under the supreme command of Prince Eugene of Savoy earned the Order praise and further privileges. The Order provided support for the poor and sick in southern Italy during the 18th and 19th centuries and, after the unification of Italy, it established youth groups, taking on many activities in support of the Church which, with Italian unification, had suffered considerable persecution and the confiscation of its property.  In the First World War it provided first aid and help to prisoners of war, a task it repeated during the Second World War, when it assisted with the return of prisoners of war, working with the Allied Command in Southern Italy (the Allied Military Governor, Major General Erskine Hume, U.S. Army, was a grand cross of the Order). It repeated this task at the time of the breakup of Yugoslavia, while also assisting refugees from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. The Order awards scholarship to seminarians in Italy and Spain, and recently contributed to a seminary in Mali, it provides humanitarian aid to Christian communities in the Middle East, and it has given direct aid to the victims of recent earthquakes in Italy and other natural disasters. In May 2017 it organized a special exhibition in Barcelona in conjunction with the Spanish Ministry of Education about the reign of King Charles III of Spain, who was Grand Master of the Order from 1731-59 (when he resigned the grand mastership to his son, later King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies). See https://ordenconstantiniana.org/inauguracion-de-la-exposicion-carlos-de-borbon-de-barcelona-a-napoles/?lang=en  

The Order’s spiritual life is central to its existence, with regular monthly Masses organized by the Italian regional delegations, while the royal commissions in Italy, Spain and Portugal carry out many other activities in support of the Church.  The newer royal commissions of France, Luxembourg, Great Britain, Austria and Liechtenstein, and the United States are expanding activities to assist the spiritual life of the members, as is expected of the regional delegations in Germany, Scandinavia and Hungary. The major feast days of the Order are St. George’s Day (April 23) and the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14).

What is the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George?2022-08-12T14:41:56+00:00

The Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George is an international Catholic order of chivalry under the grand mastership of His Royal Highness Prince Pedro of Bourbon Two Sicilies, Duke of Castro.  The Order had already received numerous signs of Papal recognition and support  from the middle of the 16th century and, by the end of the 17th century, it had members throughout much of Italy, with a large community in Spain as well as smaller numbers of knights in Austria, Hungary, Poland, Croatia (then part of the Kingdom of Hungary), and even the Spanish-American colonies. Pope Clement XI, in the 1718 papal bull Militantis Ecclesiae, confirmed the Order as a religious-military order of the Catholic Church, and it was the beneficiary of many subsequent papal privileges. In 1910 Pope Pius X restored the office of Cardinal Protector of the Constantinian Order, the last incumbent of which died in 1927 (the position of Cardinal Protector no longer exists in canon law), while in 1915 Pope Benedict XV dedicated the chapel of the Order in the Basilica of Santa Croce al Flaminio, which remains in use by the Order today. Among the members of the Constantinian Order who contributed to the construction of the chapel was Monsignor Eugenio Pacelli, later elected Pope as Pius XII. 

The provable history of the Order dates from the mid-16th century.  In 1698, the grand mastership of the Order passed to the House of Farnese, in the person of Francesco Farnese, Duke of Parma and was invested in the Farnese family and its heirs by Pope Clement XI.  In 1731, the grand mastership passed to the Royal House of Bourbon as heirs of the Farnese, where it has remained ever since.

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