The International College of Arms of the Noblesse was founded in 1925 at the International Convention of the Noblesse de Race in the United States of America, by virtue of powers confirmed to the noblesse by Francis II, King of France. King Francis II recognized the right of the noblesse to govern themselves in all matters heraldic, which was then confirmed and extended by Ordinances of the Kings of France dated 1725 and 1744 respectively, as recognized and maintained by Articles XXXVII and XLV of the Capitulation of Montreal 1760, and guaranteed by the Quebéc-Canada Act 1774 and by Articles II and XXVI of the Treaty of Paris 1763.
At the International Convention in 1925 the College was placed under the control of Count H. Victor Cherep-Spiridovich, formerly aide-de-camp to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. From him, it passed to the British Orthodox Archbishop Mar Frederic Harrington, and on Archbishop Harrington’s death in 1942 he was succeeded as Supreme Herald-Marshall by Mar Jacobus II, British Patriarch. In 1945, Mar Jacobus II appointed as his successor Mar Georgius, Catholicos of the West.
The College was incorporated under Act XXI of 1860 in India on 20 February 1950 (registration 5/1950) as a constituent corporation of the Catholicate of the West. In 1953, Mar Georgius separated his work from the Catholicate, abandoning the Indian incorporation, and founded a new organization. However, the Catholicate continued in existence independently from Mar Georgius and on 6 August 1977 was formally united with the headship of the Apostolic Episcopal Church in an act registered with the Secretary of State of California, USA. In February 2015, the present Prince-Abbot of San Luigi also became Presiding Bishop of the Apostolic Episcopal Church and Catholicos of the West, whereby the College became part of a common administration with the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi under the Prince-Abbot as Supreme Herald-Marshall.
The College is empowered to grant, recognize and matriculate Arms, to confirm and register nobiliary and chivalric titles, to collate titles deriving from diverse fontes honorum, and to prove the transmission of inherited honours. In general, it conducts research on heraldic and nobiliary matters. It is an international body, subject to no geographical constraint, save that its activities are restricted to those areas where there is no extant competent governmental heraldic body to undertake the work in question.
The reader should note that the International College of Arms of the Noblesse has not authorized any third parties to provide commercial services under its name or to represent the same on websites. Any such offer, particularly if made in the context of unrecognized “peerages” and esoteric titles, should be regarded as fraudulent.
The role of the International College of Arms of the Noblesse
When a governmental heraldic authority registers arms, it has the power to grant them legal protection. A private heraldic authority cannot do this. It can only aspire to maintain a well-ordered register of arms that could at some future point potentially attain official status.
The International College of Arms of the Noblesse, in addition to its other international activities, will register personal, organizational and civic arms. It can provide advice on designing new arms in accordance with the traditional rules of heraldry, and confirm the entitlement of individuals to existing arms on the basis of genealogical proofs being supplied. It aspires to provide an online register of arms in due course. It further registers the entitlement of those of noble ancestry to titles of nobility, again on receipt of appropriate proofs. In some cases, it can carry out heraldic and genealogical research.
The International College of Arms of the Noblesse has entered into a Treaty of Full Collaboration, Partnership, Accreditation and Recognition with the Venerabile Confraternita (o Compagnia) detta del Buonconsiglio di Città di Castello and the OR.VEN. – Ordine Venerabile della Venerabile Confraternita di Maria Ss.ma del Buonconsiglio della Buona Morte e Misericordia, Città di Castello, Italy (Order of the Venerable Confraternity (or Company), known as of (Our Lady of) Good Counsel of Good Death and Mercy of Città di Castello). This chivalric and Christian brotherhood can trace its origins to the last years of the first millennium (990-999 A.D.) and in its present form dates to 1230, making it probably the oldest religious brotherhood in continuous existence today. The Order is based at Città di Castello (Province of Perugia) where it has its own Magistral Church, and is governed by a Grand Prior (Grand Master). The Prince-Abbot of San Luigi has the honour to be a Perpetuum (Grand Cross) of the Order, its highest rank.
Am I entitled to arms?
Many websites offer a service which promises to allocate arms based on your surname. This is a misleading practice, because arms are personal to the holder and are usually borne by the holder’s descendants in the male line. As a result, in order to assert your right to existing arms, you must prove your descent from the person to whom they were granted or a person who can be proved to have used them validly in the past. If you are not entitled to an existing coat of arms, and your country does not have a governmental heraldic authority that can issue a new coat of arms, provided you are a person of good character and professional standing you can have new arms designed and granted by the International College of Arms of the Noblesse that you and your descendants will then be entitled to use.
The International College of Arms of the Noblesse can introduce interested persons holding arms registered with the College to heraldic artists who can produce a rendering of arms suitable for display on a document suitable for framing or a shield suitable for wall mounting.
The International College of Arms of the Noblesse charges fees for its design and registration services, and other services by arrangement. To apply, first write describing your needs as fully as possible, and you will then receive a personal response indicating how the College may be able to assist you.