Courts of Russia



Four years ago the Russian newspaper Segodnia of Moscow did publish an article on “The Order of Malta and false Orders” by which the Author did also attack our Prince Grand Master, His Imperial and Royal Highness Prince Henry III de Vigo Aleramico Paleologo and our Order.

A letter from the local correspondent of the catholic Order, the SMOM, having its seat in Rome was also not very nice and our Grand Master did start right away a law suit for calumny and defamation against the editor and the author of the article.

 It was a real triumph for our Grand Master ,for all of us and our Order when on July 24, 1997 the Court of Justice of Moscow having examined during almost two years, with the help of historians and experts, all the documents submitted by the Prince, did issue an irrevocable and definitive Judgments recognizing Prince Henry as the only legal Pretender to the Imperial Throne of Constantinople (Byzantium ), to the Royal Thrones of Thessaly (Greece) and Jerusalem and to the Marquisat of Monferrato (Italy) having the “Fons Honorum” i.e. the right to confer Nobility and Chivalric Titles.

 Both the newspaper and the author were sentenced and had to publish a rebuttal with their apologies.

This Judgment owing to the personality of our Grand Master was published and commented in all Russia where, as you know, Princess Sophia Paleologo married Tzar Ivan III and the byzantine two-headed eagle is now the official emblem of the Russian Federation.

Our Order is also duly incorporated in Russia.

 We are therefore glad to publish the important article of Prof. A. K. Kravtsov, of Saint Petersburg, which appeared this year, 1999, on the juridical Review PRA VO distributed to 2000 Lawyers of all Russia.



 On December 23, 1995, Segodnia, a newspaper of Moscow, did publish an article on ” The Order of Malta and False Orders” which purpose ,as it clearly shows the title, was to give to the readers the impression that there is only one “real Order of Malta” ( author’s words) and that all the others are imitations and false Orders.

 This article could be possibly considered as opened for a discussion but there was an important detail: the author did not just express his opinion about such Orders but did mention some persons, late or still alive, and all of them were presented according to his opinion.

 One of them was specially mentioned, Henry de Vigo Paleologo, residing in France, i.e. Henry III, Head of the Imperial Dynasty de Vigo Aleramico Paleologo, the only legal Pretender to the Imperial Throne of Byzantium, to the Royal Thrones of Tessaly and Jerusalem and the Marquisat of Monferrato (Italy).

 The long text about Prince Henry had a clearly offensive character and was quoted an article of a P.Chairoff where he was called a mystifier, having no evidence of his nobility, who had invented his ancestors, calling himself since 1951 “Crown Prince of the Byzantine Empire” and therefore having no right to confer titles of nobility or knighthood. It was written that his name was just Vigo and not Paleologo.

 In order to defend his honour and dignity Prince Henry started immediately a law suit in Moscow.  We had the high honour to represent him in the Court. 

 Before we tell you the result of the case let us start from the beginning.

 The genealogy of Prince Henry dates back to the very ancient ages, to Julius Caesar, to Neron and other famous figures.

 The Imperial and Royal Dynasty de Vigo Aleramico Paleologo appears as the result of merging of three Dynasties and has influenced during many centuries the destiny of a great part of mankind.

We shall consider here only the last two Centuries when the great grandfather of Prince Henry, Prince Gerolamo (1823 – 1901) received on December 2, 1869 by the Heraldic Congregation of the Senate of Rome,under Pope Pius IX, a complete recognition as Patrician of Rome and heir and descendant of the Paleologo, Emperors of the Holy Eastern Roman Empire.

 His right as Head of the Dynasty was also confirmed by the will of his Cousin, Prince Giovanni Antonio Lascaris who had been recognized on February 11, 1869 by the same Pope Pius IX.

 The Titles were inherited by the grandfather of Prince Henry, Prince Enrico (1857 – 1931) by the Father of Prince Henry, Prince Caesar (1890­ – 1951) and from him to the present Head of the Dynasty.

The inherited rights of the Head of the Dynasty have never been disputed neither by States nor by religious Authorities.

On the contrary they were confirmed several times by Courts of Justice and in order to make it better known in Russia where such cases are unusual, we shall provide brief information especially because cases of this kind may take place in the future as well.

 The first case took place in 1961 in Florida (Italy).

 As a result of an anonymous denounce it was started a case “versus” Mr. Lucio Mollica accused to have used, against the Law, the Title of “Paladin Noble and Knight” conferred to him by the Grand Master of the Sovereign Dynastic Military Order of the Cross of Constantinople without having been authorized by a Decree of the President of the Republic.

 The defendant stated that the Title was granted to him in 1951 by Prince Caesar (Father of Prince Henry III) and he used the Title believing it was allowed.

 The Court arrived to the same conclusion.

 It was recognized on the basis of the documents presented that:

 1) the House de Vigo Aleramico Paleo logo has a sovereignity of Marquis in Monferrato, of Kings in Thessaly and Jerusalem and Emperors in Constantinople (Byzantium) with the permanent right of the “Fons Honorum” (Source of Honours);

 2) Prince Ceasar is the direct descendant of the House and the above Titles belong to him;

 3) his Chivalric Order has to be classified, according to the Law, as a “non national Order” having a special legal statute and those who receives such Titles, without needing authorization by the State, have the right to use them in social and private life (business cards, letterheads, telephone directory, etc.).

 As a result it was accepted that Prince Caesar granted the Title in a legal way and Mr. Lucio Mollica was discharged because of the absence of “corpus delicti”.

 In the article” The Order of Malta and false Orders” there are many Author’ s sarcastic statements about procedures and rituals held by Prince Henry in his Orders.

 In relation to that we will quote the following case which took place in Syracuse (Italy) in 1964.

 It started when the local police “Questura” was informed of a ceremony which was held in a Palace and that a person calling himself Prince Henry III de Vigo Aleramico Paleologo and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Dynastic Order of the Knights of Constantinople, had conferred the title of Knight to several persons, including some foreigner.

According to the Police it was against the Law concerning Decorations and their use.

 During the Ceremony a special form of ritual was followed and the new Knights bowed them down before the Prince who symbolically touched their shoulders with a Sword.

 The Court issued a verdict of “no guilty” for the same reasons mentioned in the previous case.

 At the same time the verdict included an extensive motivation which helps to understand important international legal issues and is worth of attention because it is something new to us.

 The Court said that if the Italian Law (1951) forbids to private persons, associations and others to confer chivalric decorations, symbols, orders and medals and does not allow their use in any form on the other side the same Law allows Italian citizens to accept such awards from foreign States or non-governmental Chivalric Orders provided they obtain the authorization of the President of the Republic through the Foreign Ministry.

 Owing to the fact that the above Law does not give an exact definition of “non-governmental Orders”, it has been agreed by the Jurisprudence that “non-governmenta1 ” means that they belong to the dynastic privileges of the legal representatives of former reigning Houses that have never been defeated and have therefore inherited “jure sanguinis” (by the right of blood) the right to confer noble titles and knighthood.

Therefore these Orders do not depend by any law or rules of any State but only to the traditional international Laws.

The Court noted that the protection of Nobility is now very weak as the Italian Republic does not recognize inherited Titles anymore.

 The Court applied the above rules to the case and concluded that the above mentioned Order should be considered as a dynastic Order of the former reigning House de Vigo Aleramico Paleologo which had kept the “Jus Honorum” .

 The Court decided that the ceremony in Syracuse was legal and the accused had the right to perform it.

Now we can go back to the case in Moscow thought it was preceded by an other case in France.

We will tell you about it in connection with the case in Russia.

In accordance with Russian Civil Law a plaintiff is not obliged to present

documents confirming that he is the Head of a former reigning House having the right to confer nobility and chivalric Titles.

 However these documents were presented and one was the Verdict of the Court of Appeal of Nimes (France) dated April 16, 1991.

By this Verdict the already mentioned P .Chairoff and Godefroy J .C., the editor, are declared guilty to have published texts of calumnious characted which is a violation of the Law on “public defamation of a private person” and were sentenced accordingly. In particular it is said in the above Verdict of the French Court that” Henry de Vigo Aleramico Paleologo presented to the Court the original of various documents from the Italian Archives proving the antiquity, the origin and the social statute of his Family”.

The Court added that “the reigning Families, even those having lost the power, and their descendants keep the right to confer honours………… Henry de Vigo Paleologo belong to one of these former reigning Houses which keeps through the Centuries the right to confer honours “Jus Honorum” being the legal son and only Heir of the late Prince Caesar he has received “Jure sanguinis” the dynastic prerogatives of his Father including the right to confer honours: He does not do it for personal profit” .

 Owing to this situation the defendants in Moscow, the editor and the author, apologised and considering the fact that they did not know anything about the above Verdicts, the plaintiff lessened his claims, taking off the claim for compensation of the moral damages and the case ended by this mutual agreement, accepted by the Court.

Therefore on April 9, 1997 Segodnia (issue n. 168) published a rebuttal approved by the Court in which is said “Henry de Vigo Paleologo is the Head of as former reigning House having the right to confer honours as recognized by many Countries and documents.

The editor and the author gave their “sincere apologies”!

 To-day Prince Henry III devoted most of his time to cultural and charitable activities.

 He founded the “P ALEOLOGO AWARD” which is conferred every year to the best researcher in ophthalmology.

 The Russian famous dr. Svyatoslav Fyodorov was one of the first to receive the Prize.

 The Prince takes an active part in the activities of many charity funds and organizations like the American Cancer Society, the Red Cross (he is one of the few who received the highest award of this Organization, the Medal of its Founder Henri Dunant), St. Anthony Institute in Padua, Italy, the Orthodox Church, the Sisters of Mother Theresa of Calcutta, etc.etc.

 He founded also the Academy for scientific and artistic research, the Crusader Legion to help in case of natural disasters, the Order of the Little Knights of the World, etc. etc.

 He received the “Peace Prize” and the Prize “Peace and Justice” in acknowledgement of his struggle for peace on Earth.

The history of the Family de Vigo Aleramico Paleologo is closely connected with the history of Russia.

In 1995 Prince Henry III was in St. Petersburg and in his speech he said: “Here I feel at Home! There is a Russian branch in our genealogical tree since the Russian Tzar Ivan II married the Princess of our Family Sofia Paleologo. Here in Russia I see everywhere our Emblem, the byzantine two-headed eagle. Though she married but did not give to Russia our Family Emblem as dowry, now, after centuries, it is nice to see it as the official Emblem of Russia, a great and glorious Country to which Europe dues its liberation.”

Every year Prince Henry III heads the famous IMPERIAL BYZANTINE BALL which takes place in different cities of the world.

 The revenues go to local charities and to the fund of aid to young talented poets, artists and musicians.

 In 1997 the Ball was held in the Imperial Palace Peterhof, in St. Petersburg, and Prince Henri III was there.