The Libro d'Oro lists the Paternò family as an historical family for more than a thousand years which traces its origins to Prince Robert of Embrun and to the Sovereign House of Barcelona and Provence which arrived in Sicily in 1060 as part of the entourage of King Roger, seizing the Castle and Lordship of Paternò therefrom it assumed its name. In 1161 Costantino Paternò Count of Butera married Matilde Avenela the daughter of the Count of Avellino and a niece of King Roger I of Hauteville. It is impossible to list all the members of the Family of Paternò who have risen to eminence over the centuries. They have achieved honours and titles as well as the highest ranks of ancient chivalry, such as the Military Belt and the Golden Spur, and the Paternò have been Viceroys, Vicars General of the Kingdom of Sicily, Presidents of the Kingdom, Cardinals, Ambassadors to Popes and Kings, brave knights, generous patrons of the arts, famous politicians. Already Counts of Butera and of Martana in the 12th Century, the Family of Paternò has established close ties of blood with the Norman, Swabian and Savoyard Royal Houses. Knights of the Order of Malta since the beginning of the 15th Century, they are recorded by Mugnos as one of those families of royal descent. The Paternò have been Peers of Sicily since their origin and so assumed control over the governorship of the city of Catania and over its House of Nobility as to be able to exclude anyone who did not meet with their approval. Over the course of the centuries the Family held more than 170 main fiefs and since the beginning of the 18th Century possessed five hereditary seats in the Sicilian Parliament. The abolition of feudalism meant the loss of these inherent rights but the Family has continued to be renowned in intellectual, diplomatic and political fields.
Amongst the principal titles of nobility held by the Family are: Princes of Biscari, Sperlinga (1627), Manganelli, Val di Savoja e Castelforte (1633); Dukes of Carcaci (1723), Furnari (1643), Giampaolo, Palazzo (1687), Paternò, Pozzomauro e San Nicola; Marquises of Capizzi (1633), Casanova, Desera (1806), Manchi, Regiovanni, Roccaromana, San Giuliano (1662), Sessa, del Toscano; Counts of Montecupo (1772); Barons of Aliminusa, Aragona, Spedolotto Alzacuda, Baglia e Dogana di Milazzo, Baldi, Belmonte, Bicocca, Bidani, Biscari, Burgio, Capizzi, Castania e Saline di Nicosia, Cuba, Cuchara, Cugno, Donnafugata, Ficarazzi, Gallitano, Gatta, Graneri, Imbaccari e Mirabella, Intorrella, Manchi di Bilici, Mandrile, Manganelli di Catania, Marianopoli, Mercato di Toscanello, Metà dei Terraggi di Licata, Mirabella, Motta Camastra, Murgo, Nicchiara, Officio di Mastro Notaro della Corte Capitaniale di Catania, Oxina, Placabaiana, Poiura, Porta di Randazzo, Pollicarini, Pozzo di Gotto, Raddusa e Destri, Ramione, Ricalcaccia, Salamone, Salsetta, San Giuliano, San Giuseppe, Sant' Alessio, Scala, Schiso, Sciortavilla, Solazzi, Sparacogna, Spedalotto, Terza Parte della Dogana di Catania, Toscano; Lords of Baglio, Collabascia, Erbageria, Gallizzi, Mandrascate, Sciari, Sigona, del jus luendi of Camopetro. (“ House of Paternò-Castello: A Sicilian House which traces its origin to James the Conqueror, King of Aragon (+1286)”.
References to the royal descent of the House of Paternò and the rights that derive therefrom can be found in the Archive in the writings of Ignazio V Prince of Biscari, Francesco VII Duke of Carcaci, Giuseppe Emanuele IX Marquis of Sessa and Francesco XI Duke of Carcaci, considering only authors from the Family itself.
After the death of the last Prince of Cassano the heads of the different branches of the Paternò family met in family council at Palermo and recognised that the family's royal rights were vested in Don Mario Paternò Castello Guttadauro d'Emmanuel B. of Don Giovanni Paternò Castello iure maritale Prince of Emmanuel (son of Don Mario Guiseppe IV Duke of Carcaci) and his wife Eleanor Guttadauro last of the house of the Princes of Emmanuel and herself a descendant of the Kings of Aragon.
Thorbjon Paternò Castello
Principe Don Thorbjorn Paternò Castello d’Aragona Gran Maestro del Sovrano Ordine di San Giovanni di Gerusalemme Cavalieri di Malta OSJ e del Reale Ordine Dinastico Aragonese, is the son of Roberto II Enrico Francesco Mario Gioacchino and Bianca Monteforte (1948–1990). He belongs to the ancient Paternò family which traces its origins to Prince Robert of Embrun and to the Sovereign House of Barcelona and Provence which arrived in Sicily in 1060 as part of the entourage of King Roger, seizing the Castle of Paternò therefrom it assumed its name.
The Balearic Kingdom, the Paternò pretension to it and their rights as a sovereign family
The Balearic (from Baleos or Balios, comrade of Hercules) Archipelago of Spain, in the Mediterranean, facing the coast of Valencia, is composed, apart from vast numbers of minor islands and islets some of which are uninhabited, of the islands of Majorca, Minorca and Cabrera, of the islands denominated Pityuse, or Ivisia or Ibiza and Formentera, and of the Presidios, off the north coast of Morocco, excluding the island of Ceuta; these constitute at present the region known as the Balearics, with an area of 5014 sq.km. and c. 330,000 inhabitants. (Grande Enciclopedia Sozogno, vol.II, pages 238-9, entry Baleari).
The Balearic Islands, conquered in the distant past by the Carthaginians, then by the Romans under Consul Metello, again by the Vandals, the Greeks and the Arabs, were taken from these last by James I of Aragon, the Conqueror, in a war lasting from 1228 to 1235; he constituted them as kingdom in favour of Jayme, the second son of his second marriage (to Iolanda, daughter of Andrea King of Hungary) (Imhof, op. cit. table II, page 4); Jayme, the first king of this name, who died in 1312, was succeeded on the throne of the Balearics by his son Sancho, husband of Maria daughter of Charles II King of Naples. Sancho died childless and was succeeded by his younger brother Ferdinand, first married to Isabella daughter of Louis Prince of the Peloponnese and then to the cousin of the king of Cyprus. He was succeeded by his son Jayme II, who died in the recapture of Majorca in 1349. Jayme was followed by, as Prince Regent, his younger brother Ferdinand, who in turn was followed by his nephew (son of Jayme) Jayme III, who died childless in 1375, the kingdom having been taken from him in 1375 by Pedro IV of Aragon, who incorporated the Balearic Archipelago into the Aragon Crown; the only sister of Jayme III was Isabella, wife of Giovanni Paleologo Marquis of Monferrat. (Ludwig, Die Balearen, geschildert in Wort und Bild, Lipsia 1897; Jaun Dameto, La Historia general del Regno Balearico, Majorca, 1633).
The right of pretension to the Paternò Princes, last surviving branch of the Ayerbo of Aragon (itself the last branch of the House of Aragon, itself no longer extant) over the ancient Balearic kingdom, finds a juridical basis in the pontifical act which King James I the Conqueror obtained to legitimise his sons by the Duchess Teresa de Vidaure, these being Pietro, Lord of Ayerbe, and Jacopo, Lord of Xerica. “He also obtained that, if the male line became extinct (it is extinct today) the successors to the kingdom in preference to the females would be the descendents of the sons of Donna Teresa Gil de Viduara” (Candida Gonzaga, op. cit. page 5).
The branch of Jacopo of Aragon, second son of James I the Conqueror and his second wife Iolanda, daughter of Andrea King of Hungary (his firstborn Pedro was king of Aragon, and his line too is now extinct – this Jayme of Aragon was nominated by his father King of Majorca of the Balearics – coming to an end with his great-grandson Jayme III, who died childless in 1375, and Isabella, wife of the marquis of Monferrat, the Paternò, blood relatives of the Aragon kings of the Balearics by reason of their common ancestor James I the Conqueror (the Aragon kings being direct descendents of James I and Iolanda of Hungary, and the Paternò direct descendants of Pietro of Ayerbe of Aragon, son of James I of Teresa de Vidaure), they can claim the right to pretend to the ancient Balearic kingdom not only by blood but also by the testament of James I, who declared that they were to succeed to the throne if direct branches of the House of Aragon should become extinct: “Duo ex illa (Teresa de Vidaure) Jacobus Rex sustulit filios, quos testamento legitimos declaravit, quorum …Ajerbio oppido cum ejus quoque arce aliisque oppidis in Aragonum regno donavit, e a conditione ut alterutri fine liberis decedenti superstes succederet; Jolantae reginae autem, filiis sine prole decedentibus, illos ad regna vocari atque omnino foeminis etiam ex Jolanta natis praeferre voluit” (Bern. Gomez, de Vita Jacobi I R. Lib.X, XIV and X). The Aragonese Kings of the Balearics and the Paternò in fact used the same coat of arms, “Or four bars gules” (which is of Aragon), with the bend or bendlet of blue, indicating the cadet branch. The direct descent of the Paternò from Ayerbe and thus from Aragon confers also upon the Paternò, today the last representatives of the Sovereign House of Aragon, all the due rights of Fons Honorum and Jus Majestatis, recognised by international right due to the direct descendents of ancient Sovereign Houses: common rights recognised by many verdicts of the Italian Magistrature, also regarding other descendants of ancient Sovereign Houses, and consistent with the faculty of conferring or confirming noble titles on the basis of the surname or predicates taken from the names of places at some time part of the Balearic kingdom; to concede and confirm coats of arms and mottos; to concede predicates and feudal representation; to decorate with the Knight Orders of the family dynasty; to modify the statutes, to create new ones and be legitimately considered, since the Aragon Balearics Kings did not suffer the “debellatio”, that is, the total and passive renunciation for themselves and their heirs of the rights due to those who exercised Sovereignty Pretenders to this throne, were treated as Royalty; and recognition of the quality of “Princeps natus” or Royal Prince by birth.
The pretension extends, for the actual extinction of all the branches of the House of Aragon, legitimate and not, to the Aragon Crown and to the Spanish Orders (the Aragonese and of the Crown). The so-called royal prerogative is a personal prerogative “jure sanguinis” which belongs only to the king or the Prince on the throne and is transmitted to his successors at the act of coronation and investiture, also when, for whatever reason, they do not possess territory, on condition though, as in fact happened to the Aragonese Kings of the Balearics, that they have not accepted the afore mentioned “debellatio”. For not having accepted the “debellatio” after the institutional referendum, Umberto of Savoy is even now, and his successors will be in perpetuity, Pretender to the Italian Throne; the same is true for the Hapsburgs, the Bourbons, the Romanoffs, still pretenders to the thrones of their Ancestors.
That the possession of the territory does not constitute the requisite to award a person noble rank or to exercise other rights and prerogatives by virtue of “jure sanguinis” from sovereign ancestors as proved by the customs of the ages, for apart from the aristocratic Republics of Genoa, Pisa and Venice and even today that of San Marino, no Republic or President thereof has ever conferred noble titles. These are prerogatives by virtue of the noble blood of those who have reigned or exercised sovereign powers, because even after the loss of the throne they retain in themselves with the attributes and special qualities, the rights and honours which they transmit to their successors in perpetuity.
Regarding the licit and legitimate use of the Honours of the Dynastic Orders of Collation and Jus Patronatus of the ancient Royal House of Paternò-Ayerbe-Aragon, last representatives and Heirs of the Kings of Aragon and of Balearics, they, because they belong to an ancient Sovereign Family, are quite distinct from those dealt with in the Law no. 178 of 3-3-51, on the Institution of the Order of Merit of the Republic and the discipline of the Independent Knightly Orders, qualification granted “by organisations, associations or individuals”, not being, obviously, a House of Sovereign origin. The only obligation to be observed by those who have been decorated is to specify the name of the Order following the rank, to avoid causing confusion between the various Orders, national, of foreign States, of Malta and of the Holy Sepulchre (Source: L. Pellicioni).
The Fount of honour (Latin: fons honorum) of the family is heavily chalenged by Guy Stair Sainty, an individual, who has no acadamic degree, stating that as a junior member of a junior branch of the family don Roberto has no right to claim any prerogative pertaining to its chief, whether such prerogative actually exists.. In 1973 Lt Col Robert Gayre, a man with proven Nazi ties, published a booklet in which the states that "certain observations should be made which, in our opinion, destroy completely these historical claims. The Papal legitimation which is brought forward to allow the desired descent was, in itself, insufficient to transfer any title to the Crown of Aragon. Furthermoree, as Aragon dit not have the Salic law, the descnet of crown could pass through a female line. Consequently, even if the legitimation had put Don Pedro Sancho into the line of succession, that succession would have gone through a female line on the extinction of the male descent - and so to the house of Paternò would have been out of succession in any case.". (...) It is clear that no matter how distinguisched is the house Paternò, it cannot claim to be the heirs of the Kingdom of the Balearic Isles or of Aragon." (Lt Col R. Gayre of Gayre and Nigg, A Glimpse of the Chivalric and Nobiliary Underworld, Lochore Enterprises (Malta) Ltd. Valetta, Malta, pp. 27-28). A PhD study by Dr Hans Hoegen Dijkhof of the Univiversity of Leiden refutes both opinions.
The legal judgements regarding the Fount of honour and the power to grant nobility are part of the PhD-research at the University of Leiden by Dr Hans Hoegen Dijkhof, lawyer. This section of the article is based on his PhD-thesis (see pp. 296-297) .
The Fount of honour and the power to grant nobility played a role in the various Paternò cases in Italy. On 1 April 1952, the ‘Pretura Unificata di Bari’, evidently a court of first instance in criminal cases, had to decide a criminal case against a certain Umberto Z., a resident of Bari, who had publicly presented himself as Count of St. Ilarico. Z. was prosecuted for violating article 496 of the Italian Penal Code, as he was denounced by an anonimous person for having committed this crime..
Retaining the Fons honorum
His decisive defense was inter alia that this title had been validly conferred upon him by the ‘Prince Emanuel Francesco Mario Paternò Castello di Caraci’. It appeared after a full investigation of all relevant documents by the Court, that this Prince belonged to one of the first families of Sicily, a family who are descendants of William I, the Conqueror, descendants of the Counts of Gascogne, the Kings of Navarre and Castil and that the Prince was a direct descendant of the Kings of Mallorca and the Baleares and was still Pretender to this throne. The Court found that on these grounds, he had retained his full rights of fons honorum, which meant according to the Court, that he had the power to nobilitate, to grant and confirm coats of arms and to award predicates, taken from places in which his ancestors in fact had exercised sovereign powers, not to mention his right to constitute, resuscitate, reform and exercise the ‘Grand Magistry’ of the chivalric Orders of the dynasty, which are passed from father to son as an insupprimable heredity of birth, which in the ascendants of the Prince had found in fact also a confirmation by Francesco II of Bourbon, King of the Two Sicilies, in 1860. Z. was acquitted.
Legitimate power to grant honours
Then it was the Prince’s own turn. He was denounced on 14 July 1958 and prosecuted, as a resident of Brunate, before and condemned on 29 May 1962 by the ‘Pretore of Monsummano Terme’, the competent judge in first instance, to 4 months and 15 days imprisonment for having allegedly conferred false titles to a number of persons (Article 81 of the Penal Code and article 8 of Law 3.3.51 N.178.) but he was acquitted of several connected alleged counts (Articles 81cpv 640, 56, 640 of the Penal Code) for lack of evidence. He appealed with the ‘Tribunale di Pistoia’ and on 5 June 1964, this court of appeals confirmed his acquittal in first instance and annulled his condemnation in first instance. Basically, the Court said that the conferment to and acceptance of foreign honours, the honours conferred being foreign, by Italian citizens, was legal, while only the public use of these honours by Italian citizens was subject to authorisation by the President of the Republic, to properly safeguard the merits reserved to and represented by the honours bestowed by the Italian State. The Court had also investigated the fons honorum of the Prince and had found that he was the legitimate possessor of this faculty, which according to the Court was an expression of the honorific power of his house, which had been conserved by family tradition and had not suffered ‘debellatio’, the forced surrender of power. He was therefore entitled to grant the honours given by him, because the Court deemed that he had the legitimate power to grant these honours.
The quote from the website of the Corpo della Nobiltà Italiana Circolo Giovanilegt;, section ‘Alcune domanda sulla nobiltà’, dated 24 December 2004, may further elucidate this point.
Conferring of noble titles
The Public Prosecutor did not institute cassation and it was therefore definitively established between the Italian State and the Prince that the Prince or his direct descendants, by using their fons honorum, can validly confer noble titles. Accordng to Hoegen Dijkhof it is an entirely different matter whether those who have been awarded with these noble titles are or have to be recognised by a State which has a law on nobility, as belonging to the nobility of this State or as having a right to be taken up in the nobility of this State. This should be established for each State separately, depending on the domestic laws.
The latest judgement of arbitral tribunal of 5 November 2009 No 709/09, declared enforceable in the territory of the Italian Republic by decree of the Ordinary Court of Ragusa, that the Head of the Royal House of Paternò Castello of Valencia, Sardinia has the fountain of honor with all the prerogatives attached and connected to the quality of Royal Highness. The court also deceided that Noble titles may be granted with or without predicates, coats of arms, titles of honor and chivalric orders as the subject of international law for the purposes of the Act of March 3, 1951, n . 178. More specific, the verdict states the following (p. 110 ff):
"IV) - H.R.H. Prince Thorbjorn Francesco Giuseppe Nicola Roberto Paterno Castello of the Dukes of Carcaci,Prince of Emanuel in accordance with the provisions of-1 'art. 16 of the Rules of the Court of Arbitration of Ragusa for a 'finding of evidence of claim, was entitled to set up the Real Home of Valencia and Paterno Castello di Sardegna and legally took over as Head, with the deeds of the notary public act of Vincenzo Giacalone Alcamo of July 20, 2009, rep. No. 25,806, Coll. No. 4270, recorded July 24, 2009 in Trapani, mod. T, No. 5132;
V) - to H.R.H. Prince Thorbjorn Francesco Giuseppe Nicola Roberto Paterno Castello of the Dukes of Carcaci, Prince of Emanuel, an Italian citizen, born November 26, 1976 at Molndal (Sweden), who is lawfully entitled, as Head of the Royal House of Paternò Castello of Valencia and Sardinia, to the following qualities, rights and privileges:
- The quality of Royal Highness, Royal Prince, and Pretender to the Throne of Valencia and Sardinia;
- The right to qualify and to be the Sovereign Head of the Name and Arms of the Royal House of Paternò Castello of Valencia and Sardinia;
- The right to all the qualifications, prerogatives, attributes of rank, with the right to use coats of arms, which belong to him by hereditary right;
- The sovereign prerogatives related to the Jus Majestatis and Jus Fons Honorum, with power to confer titles of nobility, with or without predicates, coats of arms, titles of honor and chivalry on orders equestrian family as well as create new orders;
- The sovereign prerogative to assign, to a citizen of male or female, of its House titles by giving the right to integrate the titles and predicates into surnames, in the manner and terms established by the rules in the name;
- The quality of material subject to international law and orders of the Grand Master of the dynastic family ergo non-national for the purpose of the law March 3, 1951, No 178;
- The pretensions of sovereign titles of the King of Aragon, King of Valencia, King of Sardinia, King of Majorca, King of Sicily, King of Corsica, the Count of Barcelona, Count of Provence, Count Roussillon and of Conte d'Urgell;
- The pretensions of the feudal titles of Duke of Athens, Duke of Neopatria, Count of Sicily, Count of Cervera and Lord of Montpellier;
- The non-Feudal titles of the Family Paterno Castello: Count of Paterno, Earl of Artedero, Earl of Mongialisi, Baron of Carcaci, Baron of Biscari, Baron of Granieri, Baron of Bicocca, Lord of the Bidan and Patrician of Catania;
- The right of ownership of the Orders of the Family:
- Royal Dynastic Aragonese Order of the Knights of St. John, based in Valletta - Malta;
- Royal Dynastic Noble Order Valenciano, headquartered in La Valletta - Malta.
1.^ Edition XXIII of 2005-2009, Volume XXVIII, Tome 2 on page 275 of the Golden Book
2.^ Almanach of Gotha, 1926 edition
3.^ Deeds of the notary public act of Vincenzo Giacalone Alcamo of July 20, 2009, rep. No. 25,806, Coll. No. 4270, recorded July 24, 2009 in Trapani, mod. T, No. 5132; see also http://www.real-aragon.org
4.^ Guy Stair Sainty and Rafal Heydel-Mankoo, World Orders of Knighthood & Merit (2006).
5.^ Dr H.J. Hoegen Dijkhof, The legitimacy of Orders of St. John: a historical and legal analysis and case study of a para-religious phenomenon (PhD Thesis University of Leiden 2003)
6.^ This section of the article is based on the PhD Thesis of Dr Hoegen Dijkhof
7.^ Dr H.J. Hoegen Dijkhof, The legitimacy of Orders of St. John: a historical and legal analysis and case study of a para-religious phenomenon (PhD Thesis University of Leiden 2003)
8.^ Judgement pronounced and deposited on 1 April 1952 in the case 485/52.
9.^ Dr H.J. Hoegen Dijkhof, The legitimacy of Orders of St. John: a historical and legal analysis and case study of a para-religious phenomenon (PhD Thesis University of Leiden 2003)
10.^ 'Si senti spesso parlare di Capo di antiche dinastie spodestate che concedono titoli ed onori, sono validi? ’argomento è complicato e –come sempre- è opportune agire con la massima prudenza onde evitare truffe e raggiri che, purtroppo, sono molto frequenti. Bisogna innanzitutto essere certi che il concedente discenda realmente e per via legittima da una persona che abbia effettivamente regnato su di un territorio ed abbia esercicato il diritto di concedere onori, ed il quali forme; si deve poi guardare alle cause che hanno determinato il venir meno di tale regno; infine è opportuno accertarsi del livello tenuto dai discendenti del sovrano spodestato, onde essere sicuri che non siano ˝decaduti˝. Cosi –per esempio- chi vanta discendenze dagli Imperatori Bizantini non dovrebbe avere alcun valido diritto, dal momento che i Troni romani di Oriente erano elettivi e non si trasmettevano di padre in figlio. In linea di massima è significativa la presenza della famiglia nell’Almanacco del Gotha'
11.^ See also R. de Francesco, La Legittimità e validità degli ordini cavallereschi “non nazionali” secondo gli insegnamenti della Corte di Cassazione - Con prefazione del prof. Luigi Gianetti (Napoli, 1959).
12.^ Dr H.J. Hoegen Dijkhof, The legitimacy of Orders of St. John: a historical and legal analysis and case study of a para-religious phenomenon (PhD Thesis University of Leiden 2003).
13.^ Verdict of The International Civil Tribunal, Permanent Organ of the European Court of International Arbitration of Ragusa of the 5th of November 2009, published in the Italian State Gazette on 6 April 2011 when it became final under Italian Law and under the Convention of NY 1954