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After the medieval era, the exclusive right to confer nobility, titles, knighthoods and membership in Europe's state-recognized orders of chivalry was reserved to sovereigns.

The International Commission for Orders of Chivalry (ICOC) maintains a list of which organizations they consider to be genuine chivalric orders. The ICOC also maintains a set of principles to evaluate whether a chivalric order is genuine.

Fake Titles

False titles of nobility are titles of nobility that are not recognized by any government, even in countries in which titles of nobility once existed or still exist. They are often connected to occult or pseudo-masonic groups. They have received an increasing amount of press attention, as the number of schemes that attempt to sell these titles has increased. These titles are sometimes connected to self-styled orders of chivalry.

Self-styled Orders of Chivalry

Pseudo-chivalric orders or self-styled orders are organizations which claim to be chivalric orders, but are not recognized as legitimate by countries or international bodies. Most self-styled orders arose in or after the mid-eighteenth century and many have been created recently. Most are short-lived and endure no more than a few decades.

Self-styled orders may share certain characteristics:

  1. They derive authority from a false fons honorum and give themselves apparent legitimacy; often, the founder or patron of a self-styled order has assumed a false title of nobility as well as supposed current or former sovereignty. A fount of honour (Latin: fons honorum) is a person, who, by virtue of his or her official position, has the exclusive right of conferring legitimate titles of nobility and orders of chivalry to other persons.
  2. They were suppressed long ago by the Holy See, protector of medieval Western military religious orders in the Holy Land or on the Iberian Peninsula
  3. No sovereign Western state recognizes them as legitimate orders of knighthood
  4. They claim to be under the high protection of or to be headed by episcopi vagantes or obscure princes
  5. They are linked closely to bearers of false titles of nobility.

Additionally, many self-styled orders might share other characteristics:

  1. They claim to have survived in secret or through an irregular transmission, or alternatively to be revivals of ancient orders
  2. Members use the prefix “Sir” without postnominal initials to indicate their membership in an order.

Adding Profiles

This project can be used for profiles of historical people who used bogus titles, such as Count Count Alessandro di Cagliostro and the Sobieski Stuarts.