Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The Order of Malta - The Council Complete of State and the Election on 29 April

The events of the past five months that ultimately led to the resignation of the Grand Master have led to considerable dissension among members of the Order and concerns at the reported breaches of the Constitution of the Order. These events were unprecedented in the modern history of the Order, indeed the last occasion on which a Grand Master resigned was when Fra Ferdinand von Hompesch, after the islands of Malta and Gozo were surrendered to the French, abdicated as Grand Master on 6 July 1799.  

The Grand Master’s resignation was offered to and accepted by the Sovereign Council of the Order on 28 January 2017. Meanwhile the Grand Chancellor, Baron Albrecht von Boeselager, was reinstated in his office. The Grand Commander automatically became Lieutenant ad interim, and duly called for a meeting of the Council Complete of State to elect a new Grand Master or Lieutenant of the Grand Master.  

The work of the Order in the service of the Poor and Sick continues however, and this remains the principle focus of its members, while retaining the traditional structures which link it to its former role as both a hospitaller and a military body, dedicated to the Catholic faith. For the Order to succeed in its mission it must be united in loyalty to the next Head of the Order and its sovereignty must be protected.  

The Grand Master is elected for life by then from among the Professed Knights with at least ten years in perpetual vows if they are younger than fifty years of age; in the case of Professed Knights who are older, but who have been members of the Order for at least ten years, three years in perpetual vows are sufficient. There are provisions for the resignation of the Grand Master in the Constitution - following such resignation he becomes Bailiff Grand Prior, subject in that capacity only to the authority of the Head of the Order.

The Grand Master and the Lieutenant of the Grand Master must have the nobiliary requisites prescribed for the category of Knights of Honour and Devotion. These requisites differ according to the National Association of which the candidate was admitted. This reduces the number of potential candidates for either office to just four professed knights.  

The Council Complete of State elects the Grand Master or the Lieutenant of the Grand Master.

Those who will be entitled to vote are:

a) the Lieutenant ad interim;

b) the members of the Sovereign Council;

c) the Prelate ;

d) the (Grand) Priors or, in the event of vacancy, their permanent substitutes (Procurators, Vicars,


e) the Professed Bailiffs ;

f) two Professed Knights delegated by each Priory ;

g) a Professed Knight and a Knight in Obedience delegated by the Knights in gremio religionis;

h) five Regents of the Sub-priories, in accordance with the Code;

i) fifteen representatives of the Associations, in accordance with the Code. 

The Grand Master’s election requires a majority plus one of those present entitled to vote.

The members of the First Class taking part in the Council Complete of State have the right to propose three candidates. In the event that such a list is not presented within the first day of the meetings of the Council Complete of State or if a candidate is not elected from among the proposed list within the first three ballots, the members of the Council Complete of State have freedom of choice in successive ballots.

After the fifth undecided ballot, the Council Complete of State decides, with the same majority, whether to proceed to the election of a Lieutenant of the Grand Master for a maximum period of one year. In the event of a negative result the balloting to elect the Grand Master resumes. In the event of a positive result the Lieutenant of the Grand Master is elected by means of a runoff ballot between the two candidates who received the largest number of votes in the fifth ballot. The candidate in the runoff ballot who receives the larger number of votes prevails. Should there be only one candidate, a majority vote of those present is required.  

If elected, the Lieutenant of the Grand Master must reconvene the Council Complete of State before the end of his mandate (which cannot be greater than one year from his election).  Immediately following the election, the Pope must be informed of the name of the new Head of the Order.

The Grand Master then makes the following solemn oath: “By this most Holy Wood of the Cross and by God’s Holy Gospels, I, N.N., do solemnly promise and swear to observe the Constitution, the Code, the Rule and the laudable customs of our Order and to administer the affairs of the Order conscientiously. So help me God, and if I do otherwise, may it be to the risk of my soul. 

It is anticipated that whoever is elected the new Head of the Order, whether a Grand Master or a Lieutenant, will call an Extraordinary Chapter-General.  This will elect the members of the Sovereign Council, composed of the Great Officers of the Order (Grand Commander, Grand Chancellor, Grand Hospitaller and Receiver of the Common Treasure) and the six councillors. It will also elect the members of the Government Council, which consists of six Councillors from different geographic areas elected from members of any of the three Classes of the Order.







Monday, 23 January 2017

THE ORDER OF MALTA AND THE HOLY SEE - The Resignation of the Grand Master

When the Imperial German government decided in the late summer of 1917 to allow Vladimir Lenin and key figures in the Bolshevik leadership to have free passage across Germany into Russia, their hope was to undermine the Russian war effort. The imperial high command had no concept of the disaster that Lenin's triumph would unleash upon the world over the next seven decades and, if the Kaiser himself had even been consulted, he certainly did no intend the brutal deposition and murder of  his Romanov cousins. When Charles I dispensed with Parliament, leading to a Civil War, he had no idea that what the majority in parliament considered an abuse of his powers would end with his defeat and execution. Those who challenged the power of Louis XVI in 1789 did not imagine that their decisions would lead not only to the execution of the King and Queen and the institution of an atheist republic but, in many cases, their own death on the scaffold. There are always unforeseen consequences of which contemporary actors are often unable to foresee.

The recent crisis in the Order of Malta began some two years and a half years ago with the rejection  by the Order's Chapter-General of the candidates chosen by the Grand Master for the senior offices of the Order. The Sovereign Council that was elected was without any Italian members for the first time in the history of the Order. The succeeding period led to considerable differences within the Order's government and this led to a break down in relations between its most senior members, whose consequences for the Order, as in 1917, may turn out to be much more far-reaching than its authors ever imagined. 

In early December 2016, His Eminence Raymond, Cardinal Burke, the Patron of the Order, telephoned the Grand Magistry with a request for an urgent meeting with the Grand Master, His Most Eminent Highness Fra Matthew Festing. There is something of a haze over exactly what transpired at this meeting, which led to a request by the Grand Master for the resignation of the Grand Chancellor, Baron Albrecht von Boeselager. As is now well-known, the latter declined to resign, and his refusal was followed by a demand that he do so in obedience to his superior in the Order, as a knight who had made the special promise of Obedience. He again refused and was dismissed; this exchange was witnessed by the Grand Commander, Fra Ludwig Hoffman von Rumerstein. The latter subsequently took legal advice and withdrew his signature from the document disciplining the Grand Chancellor. Baron von Boeselager protested that he considered his dismissal unlawful and stated his decision to take this before the Tribunals of the Order, under the provisions of the Constitution and Code. His dismissal was subsequently voted upon by the Sovereign Council with the election of Fra John Critien, a member of the Sovereign Council, as Grand Chancellor ad interim.

The intervention of the Cardinal Patron of the Order, ostensibly acting in the name of the Holy Father, appeared to be a direct intervention by the Holy See in the affairs of the Order. The last time the Holy See had intervened directly was in the early 1950s when the then Grand Master, Fra Ludovico Chigi Albani della Rovere, was threatened with excommunication. The attempt on the part of some within the curia to suppress the Order failed and, ultimately, it arguably emerged re-energised and stronger. Needless to say, however, once anyone within the Order calls upon Apostolic authority to support an action or for intervention by the Holy See, there is a risk to its sovereignty.  Some even suggested that this could open a door allowing the Vatican to take control of the Order itself. While this might seem advantageous to some within the corridors of the Papal palace, such an action would destroy the Order's independence and, ultimately, its effectiveness as an international humanitarian organisation and ability to raise funds in the service of the poor and the church.

Unfortunately the decision to post notices of the Grand Chancellor's dismissal on the web site, led to a series of exchanges of widely distributed emails. It also led to a public challenge to the Holy See by the Grand Magistry and a decision by the Cardinal Secretary of State to appoint a commission to investigate and report on the Grand Chancellor's dismissal. An invitation to participate in this commission extended by the Cardinal Secretary of State was bluntly rejected by the Grand Master on the grounds that it undermined the Order's sovereignty. This rejection was then published on the Order's web site, to the surprise of many who felt such an open challenge to the Holy See was unlikely to have a happy outcome. Anyone who questioned the decisions taken by the Grand Master was warned that dissent could lead to expulsion from the Order.
The promised action by Baron von Boeselagare before the tribunal nonetheless went ahead (although it ultimately became irrelevant) and if the whole matter had been handled with greater discretion, the senior officers would have quietly returned to their homes for the Christmas celebrations to await the outcome of the proceedings in the Order's courts. Instead, the public exchanges that excited the attention of the world's press - who until then had not shown much interest in the Order - led to the subsequent firestorm of publicity that has enveloped the Order and became increasingly tendentious over the succeeding two months.

The Patron of the Order's responsibility is to represent the Holy See to the Order and therefore convey the views of the Holy Father to the Order; he is not an officer of the Order and has no power to direct its actions. The letter which Cardinal Burke delivered at his meeting was given different interpretations by the two sides; the Grand Master apparently considered it implied that the Pope himself was so disturbed by the way Baron von Boeselager had carried out his responsibilities as Grand Hospitaller, the job he had held for some sixteen years before being elected Grand Chancellor, that His Holiness wished Boeselager to be removed from his office. Cardinal Burke has not issued any formal statement about what transpired between him and the Grand Master (although several Catholic journalists have purported to be representing the Cardinal's views of what transpired); it has been revealed that the Cardinal did have a lengthy meeting with His Holiness before visiting the Grand Magistry. Baron von Boeselager has maintained that the letter did not demand or even suggest that he should be dismissed and the Cardinal Secretary of State on behalf of the Pope declared categorically that he had requested anything of the kind. It would appear, therefore, that the interpretation put upon the letter by Cardinal Burke would seem to have been exaggerated. Most members of the Order had admired Baron von Boeselager for his many years of service to the Order as Hospitaller and were therefore taken by surprise at the allegations made against him.

Following the announcement on the Order's website that the "Grand Chancellor's mandate had ended" Baron von Boeselager released the following statement, dated the Feast of the Imamculate Conception (8 December):

"Today I was suspended from my office as Grand Chancellor by H.M.E.H. the Grand Master. Also, a disciplinary procedure in order to expel me from the Order was opened at the Grand Magistry. These measures were imposed since I refused to resign as Grand Chancellor as requested by the Grand Master. I took advice that an elected officer cannot be asked to re-sign by invoking our vow of Obedience.
I refused to resign since there are no grounds to justify such an action. The subsequent act of removing me from office is in violation of the Order’s Constitutional Charter and Code.
The suspension is based on Art. 124 Par. 3 of the Code. According to this Article, the Grand Master can “call a case to himself” for just cause once a Superior, in my case the Regent of the German Subpriory of St. Michael, has initiated a Disciplinary Procedure against a member. I am not subject to such a procedure. It is only in such a case that the Grand Master can impose a precautionary suspension.
The alternative method of removing a member of the Sovereign Council, as per Art. 169, requires a deliberative vote of the Sovereign Council with two thirds supporting the removal. This step has not been taken. Furthermore, Art. 169 requires that the Grand Master consult the Juridical Council, whose advice must be given in writing. To my knowledge this step has also not been taken.
The accusation brought against me portrays me as a liberal Catholic unwilling to accept the teaching of the Church. I consider this allegation untrue and unjust. I have given my life to the Order, and through this to the Church, and I have always clearly affirmed that I am faithful to the Church and its teaching. I do not have to tell you more in this sense, as you know me.
It pains me to share with you this situation, and this level of detail, but I cannot stand by and allow untruths, distortions of fact and a failure to follow our own rules as embodied in the Constitutional Charter and Code to pass without challenge

This letter was followed by an intervention from the Procurator of the Grand Priory of Bohemia, Prince Johannes Lobkowicz, the older brother of the President of the German Association, who wrote to the Grand Master stating that:

"He (Boeselager) cannot have been suspended by decree of Your Most Eminent Highness, as the validity of such a decree would be dependent on the Grand Chancellors countersignature (Art.153.Code).
• The Code does not foresee the suspension of a holder of a high office as such. This is the obvious logic of Constitution and Code, which is anchored in a constitutional balance of power.
• But the Grand Chancellor is Member of the Sovereign Council. In order to remove a member of the Sovereign Council from office a two-thirds majority of those voting is required (Art. 169. § 1). This obviously did not happen.
• Suspension of a Member from the Order under Art.123 § 1. Code requires a decision of a disciplinary Commission. Such a commission has to be constituted in Each Priory, Sub Priory and Association, not by the Grand Magistry. To my knowledge the Sub Priory of St. Michael in Germany, who's member Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager is, has not opened disciplinary procedures against him or voted on such a sanction."

It should be pointed out that the Regent of the Sub-Priory of St Michael is the brother-in-law of Baron von Boeselager and would have been prohibited under canon law from intervening in any disciplinary actions or otherwise in this case (but that would not have prevented him from standing aside while the Sub-Priory carried out such proceedings). The Constitution and Code states that disciplinary proceedings against a member should be instituted by the association sub-priory or grand priory of which he or she was a member; at the same it does not expressly prohibit disciplinary proceedings from being instituted by the Grand Magistry - this might be something requiring clarification in any future modifications of the Constitution and Code.

Prince Lobkowicz continued:

Therefore "Suspension as a precautionary measure" (Art. 124. §3.) could be seen to be misuse of power from side of Your Most Eminent Highness.

Acts of the Holy See might possibly override Constitution and Code, even if this seems a very debatable question. According to Art. 15.2. g. it "pertains to the Grand Master to execute acts of the Holy See" ... , but such acts obviously would have to be formalized and given in writing."

This latter comment represents another unusual aspect of this affair, as the next stage in this saga was a request for "clarification" of the letter from the Cardinal Secretary of State made in a letter signed by ten presidents of National Associations of the Order - led by the presidents of the German, Dutch, French and British Associations. In Great Britain, divisions among the British members had led to the Grand Prior of England publicly disassociating himself from the President of the British Association’s decision to question the legality of the Grand Master's decision. Prince Johannes Lobkowicz, and the authors of the letter to Cardinal Parolin, however, considered that the clarification was necessary as the question of the authority of the Pope had already been opened by Cardinal Burke's initial intervention; this was itself based on a purported decision by the Holy Father to intervene in the affairs of the Order.  As this intervention had been accepted by the Grand Master, there had already arguably been potential derogation of the sovereignty of the Order. Nonetheless, the commission appointed by the Cardinal Secretary of State ultimately reported that there had been an abuse of powers and that Baron von Boeselager's dismissal had not conformed to the requirements of the Constitution and Code.

The request for clarification was followed by a letter from His Holiness himself, addressed to the Grand Master, that was distributed by the secretary of the commission which His Eminence Pietro Cardinal Parolin, the Secretary of State, announced would be formed at the Pope's request; this read (and was accompanied in the email by an " unofficial" translation):

A Sua Altezza Eminentissima


Gran Maestro del Sovrano Militare Ordine di Malta

con lettera a parte, qui allegata, il Cardinale Segretario di Stato Le trasmette

le mie decisioni circa le dolorose vicende che, nelle scorse settimane,

hanno interessato codesto Sovrano Militare Ordine di Malta.

Prego Vostra Altezza di accettarle con il medesimo spirito con cui io ho

ritenuto necessario prenderle, per il bene della Chiesa, dell'Ordine e delle

persone coinvolte. Esse hanno valore nonostante qualsiasi altra cosa in contrario.

Mi e grato assicurarLe le mie preghiere per Lei e per l'Ordine e chiedo di

pregare per me e per il mio ministero, mentre invio a tutti di cuore la

Benedizione Apostolica, insieme a un cordiale saluto.


                       Dal Vaticano, 21 dicembre 2016

The translation read:

Your Most Eminent Highness,

With the enclosed letter, the Cardinal Secretary of State conveys to you my decisions regarding the painful circumstances of recent weeks involving the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

I ask Your Highness to accept these decisions in the same spirit with which I deemed it necessary to take them, for the good of the Church, of the Order and of the persons involved. These decisions hold, anything to the contrary notwithstanding.

I readily assure you and the Order of my prayers, and I ask you to pray for me and for my ministry. To all I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing, accompanied by my warm good wishes.

The letter from Cardinal Parolin is given here in its unofficial translation:

The decision to appoint a commission to investigate this affair came as a surprise to the Grand Magistry, which maintained that the dismissal of Baron von Boeselager was an internal matter, that it is a sovereign institution and therefore that the Holy See had no standing to intervene. Since the last reforms of the code the autonomy and independence of the Order, which has reciprocal diplomatic relations with some one hundred and six states, as well as representation at numerous international organisations, has been confirmed repeatedly. The election of the Grand Master does not require the assent of the Pope, who must be "informed" of the election, there is no appeal from the Order's tribunals to those of the Holy See as in the past, and the Order is listed in the Annuario Pontificio not among the religious orders but among the sovereign states with which the Holy See has diplomatic relations.

Following widespread dissemination of the letters from Baron von Boeselager and Prince Lobkowicz, the Order put a statement on its web site recapitulating the events and stating that the dismissal was legal under the code, while not precluding Baron von Boeselager from continuing with his action before the Order's tribunals. The language and tone of this statement has been the subject of some considerable criticism as it did much to heighten the dispute. The Grand Master decreed that any member challenging the decision to dismiss Baron von Boeselager might be subject to disciplinary procedures, which did not prevent those who believed the constitution had not been followed correctly from continuing to voice their concerns publicly.

It is worth pointing out that there is another Sovereign State, the Co-Principality of Andorra, whose co-Prince is the Bishop of Urgell, who is actually appointed by the Holy See as are all Bishops, but nonetheless the Holy See has no standing to intervene in the affairs of the Principality or the Bishop's responsibilities as Co-Prince under the Andorran Constitution. Were the Pope to do so there would no doubt be energetic protests from the Andorran government and the French President. On the other hand, the Order owes its existence to a Papal Bull and, therefore, to some degree it is inextricably tied to the Holy See, under whose "protection" it remains. Furthermore, as a Catholic institution, the senior officers of the Order like its members are bound by Papal authority in all matters of faith and moral teaching.

All this led to an unedifying public spat between the Grand Magistry of the Order and the senior officers which in turn resulted series of articles in the international press that have portrayed this as a struggle between the Order and the Pope. The decision to ask for the intervention of the Holy See in this may prove to have an unintended consequences which could easily have been avoided had discretion prevailed from the outset. Perhaps if consideration to the Constitution of the Order had been given the importance it deserved, none of this might have happened.   

These events ended with the resignation of the Grand Master and the reinstatement of the Grand Chancellor - the Order, meanwhile, has continued its work in the service of the Poor and Sick, in particular dealing with the terrible refugee crisis that is facing Europe as a result of war in the Middle East and poverty and political disorder on the African continent.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The false Duke of Braganza Rosario Poidimani loses his case

Rosario Poidimani, the fantasist who has attempted to persuade the gullible that he is HRH the Duke of Braganza" has finally been humiliated. The Italian Court of Appeal in Venice has rejected his claim for damages for defamation against Guy Stair Sainty, who he alleged defamed him for exposing the reality of his imposture.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015



The town of Ostuni was granted for a sum of 84,000 ducats to a Neapolitan Banker of Spanish origin, Juan (Giovanni) Zevallos on 14 December 1639, to whom the crown was a substantial debtor.  The latter was created Duke of Ostuni in 1646 (in return for forgiveness of the debts). The Zevallos family were extremely unpopular with the inhabitants of the town who resented (and indeed attempted to burn down) the massive Palazzo Zevallos built by the first Duke. He was succeeded by his son Francesco in 1657, then in 1694 by the latter’s son Bartolomeo who died in 1762 when he was succeeded in turn by his son Francesco (II). Francesco, IV Duke, ceded the town and duchy to his daughter and heiress Maria Carmela in 1784. Bartolomeo Cevallos, III Duke, was created Prince of Valenzano in 1748, after acquiring the fief from the Crown.

Maria Carmela Cevallos y  Villega, Castillo y Salvador, married Giandomenico Tresca Carducci, Patrician of Bari; in 1804 she was obliged to surrender ownership of the feudatory of Ostuni because of maladministration.  The abolition of the feudal system in the kingdom of Naples in 1806 by the new French regime further impoverished the family– she died in 1815.

She was succeeded by her son Bartolomeo Tresca Carducci as IV Prince of Valenzano and VI Duke of Ostuni, who was in turn succeeded by Giovanni Tresca Carducci, V Prince and VII Duke (1824-1864/66), succeeded by Filippo, VI Prince and VIII Duke (1853-1922), succeeded by Giovanni, VII Prince and IX Duke (1886-1933), who was succeeded by Filippo Trecsa Carducci, VIII Prince and X Duke (1922-20..), who was succeeded by Giovanni Tresca Carducci, born in 1948, IX Prince and XIth Duke of Ostuni.

Juan (Giovanni) Zevallos has no male line descendants and the sole legal heir to his title of Duke of Ostuni is Rodolfo Tresca Carducci.

The succession of the Tresca Carducci family was affirmed by King Ferdinando IV of the Two Sicilies, and the titles of Prince of Valenzano and Duke of Ostuni are recorded in the 1922 Elenco Ufficiale of the Italian Nobility published by the government of the Kingdom of Italy.

The claim to the title by a Spanish citizen who has obtained an Italian court decision that purportedly recognises him as Duke of Ostuni is therefore without merit. The Italian court was misled as to the facts and the actual succession to this title under the original patent, the confirmation of the King of Naples and Sicily and the inclusion of the title as pertaining to the Tresca family in the Elenco Ufficiale is an absolute bar to a claim by any other person.



The house of peers of Sicily was conceived by the anglicized government of the kingdom during the dictatorship of Lord William Bentinck. Although based on the similar British institution,  its historical origin was the ancient Norman assembly of notables established at the foundation of the Kingdom.  The history of the Sicilian parliament has been discussed elsewhere and this essay is primarily concerned with the house of peers established by the constitution of May 23rd, 1813.

This constitution had been drawn up by the feudal Sicilian par_liament and, in addition to providing for a house of deputies of one hundred and fifty-five members, it established a house of peers with one hundred and twenty-four noblemen (representing the heirs of feudal titles) and sixty one clerics and their succes_sors in their benefices.

The constitution of February 10th, 1848, provided for the re-introduction of the house of peers and, on reassembling, this new chamber made certain amendments to the structure. It excluded all holders of peerages who were not Sicilians (thus excluding peerages held by Neapolitans) and, after declaring these peerages vacant, made them provisionally elective with life appointees nominated by the Chamber.  Subsequently, by the constitutional statute of July 10th, 1848, it declared itself abolished and was replaced by a Senate, to which holders of peerages could be "elected" provided they had signed the declaration of April 13th, 1848, deposing Ferdinand II.

The peerages were attached to the titles (listed below), which passed by male primogeniture until the extinction of the male line, when they passed to the male heir of the nearest female heiress (ladies could not sit in the Chamber). Certain modern scholars consider that one of the peerages (the princely title of Castelnuovo), was not validly constituted since it was not a feudal but an allodial estate. Precedence was determined first of all by the date of the peerage (the same for all but one peerage), secondly by rank (Prince, Duke, Marquess, Count, Baron), and thirdly by the date of creation of the title.

The reforms of nobiliary law introduced since Italian unification have modified the succession of Sicilian titles and inheritance, which require the authorization of the Italian Crown to pass to females. Furthermore, there ceased to be any distinction between titles of feudal origin and other titles, while the dignity of peer of Sicily carried no privileges under the new regime. The Chamber of Peers was replaced by a Senate, with its seat even_tually situated in Rome. The Italian Republic does not recognize any noble titles or privileges formerly attached to such titles.

The succession to Sicilian titles has been further complicated by the regulation of noble succession in Spain, where it is possible to "rehabilitate" a dormant title that was created by a king of Spain in his capacity as Sovereign in Italy. Furthermore, it has been possible to obtain recognition of the right to use a foreign title in Spain, and until 1968 this included titles created by the Bourbon kings of the Two Sicilies. Although the Spanish authorities look to the original patents creating these titles, they do not take into consideration the changes introduced since 1860; thus, it is possible for there to be two claimants to the same title, one Italian and one Spanish, both authorized to use it.  An example of this is the title of Marchese di Capizzi (see below), inherited legally in Italy by don Benedetto Paternò Castello, but authorization for the use of which has been petitioned by the Condesa de Gibacoa.


Where peerages have passed through the female line by authorization of the king of Italy, such deviation has been acknowledged here, even when the title has been diverted from the heirs male of the original grantee of the peerage. In the list below we have given the name and (where possible), the birth date of the holder under the law of the Kingdom of Italy.  If there is an heir (or heiress) whose right to succeed has not been acknowledged or authorized in Italian law their name is given in parentheses [ ]. When the original terms of the creation have been complicated by a subsequent extension of the original grant by the king of Italy, it is possible that there may be more than one such claimant whose right remains to be adjudicated; if known, such potential heirs' names are also given in parentheses.  When such a person has had permission from the Spanish authorities to use the title to which the peerage was attached, their name is indicated with an *; when they have petitioned for such use (and provided there does not appear to be any other identifiable claimant under Italian law), their name is indicated with two**, even if their claim is made under Spanish rather than Italian succession law; when they are claiming a title already authorized in Italy, or which could be legitimately claimed under Italian nobiliary law by another, their name is indicated with three ***.

If a holder of a Sicilian peerage is generally known under another title, that title is given along with the name. Where a title appears to have become extinct, the family name or full name of the last known holder of the peerage is given, even if that person was a female. With most of the extinct titles, it is almost certain that an heir by inheritance through the female line (or by virtue of an earlier investiture according to pre-1860 succession law) does exist; however, tracing such an heir is not within the scope of this essay. Where the peerage is combined with another, the senior title is given. Under the 1813 Constitu_tion a holder of multiple peerages could enjoy a corresponding number of votes; by the reforms of 1848 the junior peerages were declared provisionally elective and a life nominee was appointed.


The name and rank of the title to which the peerage was attached is underlined; the date of birth of the present heir, if known, is given immediately following the name.

Principe di Butera don Giuseppe Lanza Branciforte n.1932.
Principe di Castelvetrano Principe don Giuseppe Tagliavia-Aragona-Pignatelli Cortes, Principe di Noia, Duca di Terranova, n. 1931.
Principe di Paternò don Pietro Moncada (d'Aragona), n.1920.
Principe di Castelbuono ? estinto (circa 1920) con donna Giovanna Ventimiglia, Principessa di Buonriposa, figlia di don Francesco Ventimiglia e sorella ed erede di donna Corrada Ventimiglia, moglie di Pietro Mancuso.
Principe di Trabia  il Principe di Butera
Principe di Castiglione Principe don Filippo Rospigliosi, n.1942.
Principe di Villafranca Principe don Francesco Alliata, n.1919.
Principe di Paceco  [don Luigi Costa Sanseverino, Principe di Bisignano, n.1940].
Principe di Roccafiorita   ? estinto con don Antonino Bonanno, Principe di Cattolica, m.1916. [Erede del linea ultragenito don Eduardo Bonanno, dei principi di Cattolica]
Principe di Scaletta Principe don Sigerio Ruffo, n.1919.
Principe di Maletto don Michele Spadafora, Principe di Spadafora, n. 1937. [o discendenti di donna Francsca-Ippolita Monroy, n.1881, sp.1898 Giuseppe Cammarata (Camerata)].
Principe di Pantelleria +don Leopoldo Grifeo, m. ?   [suoi figlie; o **Dona Maria-Luisa Truyols e Moragues]
Principe di Palazzolo Principe don Fabrizio Ruffo di Calabria, Principe di Scilla, n.1922.
Principe di Leonforte Principe don Alessandro Borghese, n.1924
Principe di Carini  don Antonio Alex La Grua e Talamanca, n. 1905 (o suoi eredi feminile).
Principe di Castelnuovo don Corrado Valguarnera n.1934.
Principe di Campofranco Conte don Pietro Lucchesi-Palli n.1943.
Principe d'Aragona don Francesco Burgio, n.1936.
Principe di Scordia il Principe di Butera
Principe di Valguarnera il Principe di Villafranca
Principe di Resuttano don Francesco di Napoli Rampolla, n.1923
Principe di Partanna don Mauro Turrisi Grifeo, n.1927
Principe di Malvagna ? estinto con don Antonino Migliaccio e Gal_letti, m.dopo 1848.
Principe di Calvaruso don Antonio Trigona, n.1927.
Principe di Monforte don Federico Moncada, n.1904 (o suoi eredi, discendenti di suoi fratelli).
Principe di Palagonia il Principe di Partanna
Principe di Cassaro don Giovanni Angelo Borghese, n.1928.
Principe di Biscari don Giuseppe-Vincenzo Paternò Castello n.1908 (erede don Roberto Paternò Castello, n. 1945).
Principe di Mezzojuso  ? estinto con don Francesco-Paolo Corvino, m. dopo 1813; declarato vacante 1848.
Principe di Montevago  [donna Rosalia Gravina, n. ]
Principe di Mirto [donna Caterina, nata dei marchesi Salvo Ugo delle Favare, sp.(1) il Barone di Casalgismondo, (2) il Principe di Valdina, Duca di Prato Ameno; erede suo figlio di (1), Rocco Camerata, Barone di Casalgismondo, n.1946]
Principe di Galati don Antonio de Spucches, n.1927.
Principe di Raffadali don Giovanni Tortorici Montaperto, n.1928.
Principe di Militello don Gaetanoo Starrabba, Principe di Giar_dinelli, n.
Principe di Cerami +don Giuseppe Rosso, n. 1894 [al suo figlia Signora donna Elvira Prestifilippo, nata Rosso, n. 1919]
Principe di Campofiorito il Principe di Butera
Principe di Aci S. Antonio e S. Filippo ? estinto con don Giuseppe Reggio, m. 1870 [don Lorenzo Pineyro e Escriva de Romani, Conde de Torralba de Aragon; o il Principe di Butera; o erede di don Paolo Reggio, dei principi d'Aci, m.1943]
Principe di Sciara don Francesco Saverio Notarbartolo n. 1933
Principe di Sant'Antonino don Girolamo Vannucci, n. 1947
Principe di Comitini don Silvano Gravina Cruyllas, n. 1946
Principe di Furnari don Francesco Notarbartolo, n.1928.
Principe di Rosolini don Vettor Galletti, Principe di Fiumesalato, n.1925.
Principe di Spadafora don Michele Spadafora, n.1937.
Principe di Rammacca +don Pietro Gravina, n.1897 (al suo erede maschile).
Principe di San Teodoro Marchese don Gregorio de Gregorio, n. 1923.
Principe di Belmonte don Gaetano Hardouin-Monroy Ventimiglia, n. 1924.
Principe di Ficarazzi ? estinto con don Domenico Giardina, m.dopo 1848.
Principe della Mola [don Ferdinando Stagno Villadicani, dei prin_cipi di Alcontres, n.1939; donna Emanuela Mannamo e Mannamo].
Principe di Camporeale [don Paolo-Giuseppe Sallier de la Tour, dei principi di Castelcicala, n.1928].
Principe di Castelforte [il Principe di Comitini]
Duca di Bivona [*don Manuel Falco e de Anchorena, Duque de Fernan Nunez, Grande di Spagna, n. 1936; don Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, n. 1934]
Duca di Castrofilippo don Girolamo Fatta del Bosco, Principe di Bel_vedere,  Marchese di Alimena, n. 1940
Duca di Palma  + don Giuseppe Tommasi, Principe di Lampedusa, m. 1958
Duca di Reitano +don Giovanni-Antonio Colonna (Romano), Duca di Cesaro, n. 1878 [? succede discendente di sua figlie donna Simonetta o di Mita, o del figlia del suo nonno, donna Eleonora n.1807, moglie di Cav. Gioacchino Spinelli, Barone di Scala].
Duca di Montagnareale   +don Luigi Vianisi, m.1990 [erede suo figlia, donna Anna Maria Vianisi, n. 1944]  
Duca di Piraino  [+don Alberto Denti-Amari, Principe di Castel_lazzo, n.1886].
Duca di Serradifalco don Alberico Lo Faso, n.1935.
Duca di Sperlinga ? estinto con don Giuseppe Oneto, Principe di San Bartolomeo, m. dopo 1848 [a lasciato due figlie, Aloisa e Marianna, morte s.p.]
Duca di Gualtieri Duca don Giuseppe Avarna, n.1916.
Duca di Misterbianco don Alberto Trigona, n.1928.
Duca di Cesaro il Duca di Reitano
Duca di Carcaci Duca don Gaetano Paternò Castello, n.1923.
Duca di Castelluzzo ? estinto con don Francesco Agraz e Termine, m. dopo 1848.
Duca d'Acquaviva don Luigi Oliveri, riconosciuto 1934.
Duca di San Giacomo Villarosa don Gian-Francesco Notarbartolo n.1932.
Duca di Sorrentino don Antonio de Gregorio, Principe di S. Teodoro, n.1923 [**Dona Dulce-Maria Chacon e Jorge, Condesa de Gibacoa].
Duca di Vatticani ? estinto con don Ferdinando Termine, m. dopo 1859
Duca di Bronte Rt.Hon. Alexander Nelson Hood, Visconte Bridport, Pari del Regno Unito di Gran Bretagna, n.1948.
Marchese di Marineo [Carlo Ruggero Pilo-Baci, Conte di Capaci, n. 1951].
Marchese di Giarratana  ? estinto con don Girolamo Settimo, Principe di Fitalia, n. 1846, m. dopo 1910 [? succede sua sorella donna Maria-Felice][il Principe di Spadafora].
Marchese di Sambuca il Principe di Camporeale
Marchese di Montemaggiore con Biscardo don Biagio Licata, Principe di Baucino, n.1947.
Marchese di Santa Croce ? estinto con donna Marianna Celestri e Gravina, Baronessa d'Alia, m. 1866.
Marchese di Sortino [Signora Elena Monteforte, nata Specchi 1922].
Marchese di Motta d'Affermo  Ven. Bali Fra don Gabriele Ortolani, Principe di Torremuzza, n. 1907.[***Dona Dulce-Maria Chacon e Jorge, Condesa de Gibacoa].
Marchese di Tortorici-Li Graniti  +donna Isabella del Castillo, marchesa di San Isidoro, m. dopo 1849; al sua sorella donna Rosa, sp. 1849 Filippo de Cordova e Curti.
Marchese di Roccalumera don Alberto Stagno, Principe di Alcontres
Marchese di San Cataldo il Principe di Rosolini [Principe di Fiumesalato]
Marchese di Ogliastro ? estinto con don Antonio Parisi, Principe di Torrebruna, m.1848
Marchese di Lucca don Alessandro Mastrogiovanni-Tasca, Principe di Cuto (n.1906)
Marchese di Capizzi don Benedetto Paternò Castello, n.1930 [***Dona Dulce-Maria Chacon e Jorge, Condesa di Gibacoa]
Marchese di Mongiuffi-Mella e Kaggi +don Vincenzo Loffredo-Calcagno, Duca di Ossada, n.1860 m.    .
Marchese di Camporotondo ? estinto con don Ignazio Lucchesi Palli, m. dopo 1848.
Marchese d'Alimena  [don Girolamo Fatta del Bosco, Duca di Castrofilippo, Principe di Belvedere]
Marchese di Murata la Cerda +don Fulco Santostefano, n.1898 [erede Nobile Luisa Lequio di Assaba, n.1926]
Marchese delli Bagni  don Giuseppe Daniele,n. 1879
Marchese di San Ferdinando ? estinto con don Pietro-Antonio Ros_tagni, m.dopo 1848.
Marchese di Marianopoli seu delli Manchi di Bilici don Giuseppe Paternò-Alessi, n.1925.
Conte di Modica [Dona Maria del Rosaro Fitzjames Stuart e Silva, Duchessa di Alba de Tormes, Grande di Spagna; o Don Jacopo Fitzjames Stuart e Gomez, Duca di Penaranda de Duero, Grande di Spagna]
Conte di Naso  ? estinto con don Bernardo Joppolo, m. dopo 1813, declarato vacante 1848.
Barone della Ficarra +don Salvatore Mosto (Musto), Marchese di Lungarini, n.1878, con discendenti.
Barone di Castania il Principe di Monforte
Barone di Santo Stefano di Mistretta [+donna Maria-Carolina Trigona, dei principi di S.Elia, n.1896; o Pier Marino Albanese, figlio di donna Giovanna Albanese, nata Trigona].
Barone di Tripi don Giuseppe Merlo, Marchese di S. Elisabetta, n. 1929.
Barone di Longi il Marchese di Mongiuffi-Melia e Kaggi
Barone di Pettineo don Vincenzo Paternò-Ventimiglia-Lanza-Filingeri-Vanni, Marchese di Regiovanni, n.1923
Barone di Prizzi  il Principe di Roccafiorita
Barone delli Martini don Francesco Sabatini, Principe di Santa Margherita, n.1931.
Barone di Rocca  +donna Casimira Valdina in Attanasio (Atenasio), m. dopo 1848; [Francisco de'Francisco Furno Valguarnera, Barone di Caruso, n.1914]
Barone di Godrano don Ruggero d'Ondes, Duca dell'Isola, n. 1914
Barone di Casalnuovo Balì Conte don Carlo Marullo di Condojanni, n.1947 (con titolo di Principe, creato di Re Umberto II 1977).
Barone di Vita don Vito Sicomo,n.1939.
Barone di Tusa ? estinto con don Orazio La Torre, m. dopo 1848.
Barone di Piana di San Carlo  don Onofrio Maccagnone, Principe di Granatelli, n.   .
Barone di Vallelunga don Francesco Paolo Papè, Principe di Valdina, n.1942.
Barone di Kaggi [il Principe di Galati]
Barone di Baucina ? estinto con don Matteo Calderone, m. dopo 1848.
Barone di Ferla ? estinto con don Francesco Tarallo, Duca di Miraglia, m. dopo 1848
Signore di Gallidoro il Principe di Paternò
Barone di Riesi seu Altaviva +Principe don Lodovico Pignatelli-Gonzaga-Aragona-Cortes, Conte di Fuentes & Grande di Spagna, n.1878, m.   ; [don Antonio Pignatellli de Aragon e Burgos, Conte di Fuentes e Grande di Spagna]
Barone di Mancipe e Passarello o Villadoro ? estinto con don Gesualdo d'Onofrio, m. dopo 1848 [o ? succede rappresentante dal linea ultragenito Nobile Italo d'Onofrio, n.1923]
Barone di Campobello +donna Marianna Sammartino, duchessa di Mon_talbo, n.1847, sp.Nicolo Filippo Mule, figlio di Giovanni [al sua figlia Chiara, Signora di Balatazzi, n.1868, sp.     ...... Alu; o erede sua sorella donna Maria Felicia, n.1854, sposata Giovan Battista Chianello, erede suo figlio Stefano Chianello Di Maria Zappino, cambiato a Boscogrande, con figlii,]
Barone di Melinventre seu Catenanuova [il Principe di Aci; o il Principe di Butera].
Barone di Villasmundo [Marchese don Consalvo Paternò Asmundo delle Sciare, n.1943]
Barone di Castelnormando [il Principe di Campofranco]
Barone di Giardinelli [il Principe di Castelnuovo]
Barone di Pachino il Principe di Militello
Barone di San Pietro don Mario Clarenza, Principe di Santa Domenica,n. 1902 [? erede suoi sorelle Lucia, Concettina, Giovanna, Amelia ].
Barone d'Aliminusa +don Angelo Milone, n. 1883.
Barone di Villalba don Stefano Palmeri, Marchese di Villalba n. 1929.
Barone di S. Cono  don Salvatore Trigona, n.1939.
Barone di S.Giuseppe-Villaurea ? estinto con don Francesco de Michele, m. dopo 1848.
Barone di Santo Stefano di Briga il Principe di Galati
Barone di Belvedere o Carancino +don Placido Bonanno e Bonanno, Barone di Rosabia, m. dopo 1848.


Barone di Priolo don Gioacchino Gargallo, Marchese di Castel Len_tini, n.1923.



Those marked with an * derive from the same creation, but have become two titles because of the different Italian and Spanish succession rules.

ABRANTES – Duke, Spanish title of the Zuleta family; French title granted to Marshal Junot.

BERWICK – English 1687, then created as a Spanish dukedom in 1707 – the former today is held by the Duke of Penaranda de Duero, the latter by the Duchess of Alba.

*BIVONA – Duke, Sicilian title granted to D. Pedro de Luna, inherited by the Moncada; from the Moncada it was claimed by two different families – the first, the Neapolitan Jose Alvarez de Toledo, who obtained recognition of the succession from the King of the Two Sicilies in 1854 and was held by this branch of the family until the 1940s when there was no King to confirm the succession; meanwhile the title was also confirmed for the Spanish Jose Maria Alvarez de Toledo, Conde de Xiquena, as a Grandeeship in 1865 and this title has now passed to the duke of Fernan Nuñez. Thus there were two dukes of Bivona from the same creation. In a sense this is almost a parallel situation, yet it would be hard to argue that one was “legitimate” and the other not.

*CASTIGLIONE – Prince, Sicily 1602 – the Italian Princely title is today held by Prince Rospigliosi, as heirs of the Gioeni, heirs of Cardona; meanwhile the same title has been rehabilitated in Spain by another heir of the Cardona, as a Marques, for Maria del Pilar Colón de Carvajal (mother of Julio Prado, Conde de la Conquista and now held by his son).

*FERNANDINA  - Duke, Spanish title and Grandeeship of 1573; held by the same Alvarez de Toledo family, but recognized by the King of Italy for D. Giuseppe Alvarez de Toledo and then passed to his heirs, but meanwhile rehabilitated in Spain in 1993 for D. Maria Gonzalez de Gregorio y Alvarez de Toledo, of the Spanish branch of the family.

*FRANCAVILLA – Prince, originally one creation in 1555, the title remains a Princely title of the Caracciolo family, but was then recognized as having passed to the Imperiali under the original patent by the Conuslta Araldica in 1942; however, it was also converted into a Spanish ducal title, when rehabilitated in 1921 by D. Inigo de Arteaga.

*SANTA CRISTINA – Duke, Spain 1830, created for Prince Ruffo di Calabria and today confirmed in Italy for the Torrigiani (Elenco Ufficiale) and now held by Marchese D. Raffaelle Torrigiani, as cognatic heir of that branch of the Ruffo di Calabria; the same title also rehabilitated in Spain in 1923 for D. Maria de la Concepion Alvarez de Toledo and today held by her heir Jose Doquin Marquez y Alvarez de Toledo, succ 1975.

TERRANOVA – Duke, Spanish 1502, for the Gran Capitan Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba and now held by D. Gonzalo de la Cierva, Grandee of Spain; also the same title created as a Neapolitan duchy held by Prince Pignatelli Aragona Cortes, and by the last Serra, Principe di Gerace, who died in 1947.

The historic French family of Béthune and a present day Count de Béthune


Baudoin I, grand forestier of Flanders carried off Judith (widow of Atelulf, King of the English), daughter of Charles the Bald, King of France in 862, who apparently welcomed the elopement, but was forgiven by his father-in-law who made him Count the next year. Their son Baudoin II married the sister of Alfred the Great, King of the English, and their descendants in the sixth generation included Baudoin VI, his brother and successor as Count Robert I and their sister Mahaud, who married in 1053 William (later William I the Conqueror), Duke of Normandy.  Roberto I’s grandson Baudoin VII died without male heirs in 1119, whereupon the County passed to Charles of Denmark, son of Robert I’s daughter Adele by King Canute (Knud) III of Denmark (she married 2ndly Robert of Hauteville, another Norman raider, Duke of Apulia and Calabria). Charles of Denmark, Count of Flanders, died s.p. in 1127 leaving a widow Marguerite of Clermont –Louis VI the Fat of France arranged that a grandson of William I (the Conqueror and Mahaud of Flanders, William of Normandy (William Clinton) should succeed and helped him defeat his cousin Thierry of Alsace, who also claimed the County, but William died in 1128 after a brief reign. Thierry was a younger son of Thierry I, Duke of Lorraine and Gertrude of Flanders, next younger (to Adele, Queen of Denmark) daughter of Count Robert I, and married his cousin Count Charles’s widow, Marguerite, and was able to take unchallenged possession in 1128. He went on the 2nd crusade with Louis VII and died in 1168 after 40 years as Duke. His eldest surviving son and successor, Philippe, was the first to be a Peer of France (in 1179), but died sp on the 3rd  Crusade at the siege of Acre in 1191.

His sister Marguerite succeeded to the County; she had married Baudouin, Count of Hainaut, but died in 1194 when her eldest son Baudouin IX succeeded. He has become notorious as the man who sacked Constantinople on the fourth Crusade and his name has become anathema to the Greeks. He had in fact been a supporter of the legitimate Emperor Isaac and was outraged first at his blinding and imprisonment in 1203 by his younger brother Alexis and then, after the young Alexis IV (Isacc’s son) was murdered by Alexis Ducas (who proclaimed himself Emperor), he sacked the city and proclaimed himself Emperor (without any right at all, however, other than the support he managed to get from the other Crusader leaders). Needless to say the Greeks were unhappy about the destruction of their city and having a Latin ruler, so rose up against him and helped by the Bulgarians defeated and imprisoned him; he died in 1206. A strange episode happened 20 years later when a hermit, Bertrand de Rains, suddenly appeared claiming to be Count Baudouin, and briefly managed to get a few to support him, but he was handed over to his purported daughter who had him tried, and he was hanged in 1226.

Baudouin’s daughters Jeanne (who died in a convent in 1244, after a series of adventures, had a daughter who predeceased her) and then Marguerite succeeded, the latter in 1244. Marguerite married Guillaume de Dampierre in 1223, which was quite an elevation for this young man (although his father had married well, to Mahaud, Lady and heiress of Bourbon). Their grandson Robert III de Dampierre, Count of Flanders, was known as de Béthune, after his mother Mahaud de Béthune, daughter of Robert VII, Seigneur de Béthune, and it is thus that the confusion arose. Robert of Flanders’ father had died a French prisoner and to insure his succession he had to  make substantial concessions to the French. Even so much of his estates were sequestered and only restored eventually to his grandson, Louis II, who took possession as Count of Flanders in 1320. The latter’s son Louis III was the last Dampierre Counts of Flanders; at his death his only daughter Marguerite succeeded; she had married first the last duke of Burgundy of the old line, and on his death was married off to the new Duke of the second line, uniting Flanders with Burgundy.

The Béthune family was the most important noble family of Artois and owned substantial territories in Flanders. Their earliest recorded ancestor was Robert, who in 932 styled himself “par la grace de Dieu Seigneur de Béthune” in a charter. Robert VII de Béthune was the 2nd and eldest surviving son of Guillaume, Sgr de Béthune etc, and father of Mahaud, wife of the Count of Flanders, had a younger brother Guillaume, who inherited part of Bethune and many other territories and married a rich heiress who brought him the Barony of Pontrohart. He is the ancestor of the later lines of the family. These included the line of Dukes of Sully, who became sovereign princes of Henrichemont (the dukedom of Sully had an extraordinary history with endless law cases between cousins) extinct in 1807; Marquis de Chabris and Béthune, extinct in 1833; and the dukes of Charost (extinct in 1800).

The question that is uncertain is whether the Princes de Béthune-Hesdigneul are even male line Béthunes. They certainly claimed to be, although their real name was Desplanques, or des Planques, but claiming despite this name to be Béthune descendants. Even if they are, they were separated by seven generations from the ancestor of Robert VII de Béthune, whose daughter married the Count of Flanders. There is some justice in the claim that the reason they did not have the name Béthune was because it was the practice for younger sons to take the name of their own seigneurie, and there are several instances where younger sons took secondary names. In fact the second line of Dukes of Sully had taken the name Orval, after their own seigneurie (later erected into a duché en brevet). This family claim that they descend from the second son of the founder of the family, Robert I Seigneur de Béthune in the 10th century, whose name is unknown but was the father of Elbert, Seigneur de Carency, whose grandson Elberft II supposedly had a youngest son Hugues de Carency, Seigneur des Planques, which soon substituted des Planques for the name Carency.

There are various citations of des Planques over the succeeding 2 centuries, and in 1339 Huges, son of Huon des Planques, was using the arms of Béthune. A judgment was obtained in the Arras court to the effect that the des Planques were Béthune descendants in 1461. Michel des Planques (living in the 1520s) made a very opportune marriage to Antoinette des Bours, sister of the Bishop Duke of Laon, and this brought opportunities including the acquisition of the Seigneurie of Hesdigneul. The family now entered the Spanish service and assumed the title of Marquis de Hesdigneul in the mid-17th century. In 1720 Eugene, styled Marquis de Hesdigneul, obtained a judgment affirming his Béthune descent in the Arras Court, but when his son Joseph applied for admission to the carriages of the King (for which 400 years of nobility was required) in 1778, the genealogist Chérin, refused as he could not prove this descent to Chérin’s satisfaction. His son Eugène assumed the name de Béthune, and it was such that he was created by Joseph II (not as Emperor, but as Sovereign of the Netherlands), Prince de Hesdigneul in 1781 (despite this the Netherlands only recognized him as a Count in 1816, and for the son of the latter, in 1848, the title of Marquis, and then in 1888 the King of the Belgians first recognized the title of Prince, and again in 1932 for Count Albert-Ferdinand, a cadet who inherited on the death of his cousin; with the title of Count granted to an uncle of Prince Albert-Ferdinand).  Eugène was made a French Lieutenant-General in 1816 and in 1818 was allowed to establish a majorat as hereditary prince. The 9th Prince de Béthune-Hesdigneul adopted as heir the son of his wife’s first marriage, a M. Petit-Jacques, who assumed the name Béthune-Hesdigneul. The succession to the title, however, passed to a cousin Henry (born 1945) and there are male heirs.

By a strange twist, the widow of the penultimate (mother of the last, who died within weeks of his father) duke of Sully, adopted as her universal heir a cadet of the Béthune-Hesdigneul family, Emile Eugène de Béthune, who was allowed to assume the name Béthune-Sully in 1816. This line became extinct in 1902 when Count Maximilien de Béthune-Sully died of arsenic poisoning (his elder daughter had also died tragically, poisoned by something she ate as a baby).

Meanwhile another Belgian family, also calling itself de Béthune (represented by Félix-Antoine Joseph (de) Béthune, Burgomeister of Courtrai, was ennobled in 1845 and created a Baron in 1855 (extended to all his descendants in 1871). In 1866 this same Félix obtained the Papal title of Count, but this has never been recognized in Belgium. By the device of having himself adopted by shop-girl, a Mlle Gabrielle Sully, Baron Etienne de Béthune was able to add the name Sully. Thus emerged the present Béthune-Sully family, which has no connection at all with the ancient family of that name.