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How did a Russian fraudster become a Duke in Spain
Posted by Guy Stair Sainty on 16/6/2017, 12:20:06
Vassili Durassow, from a minor Russian noble family, managed to persuade the Spanish that he was the direct male line descendant of Louis of Anjou, captured in Hungary and who supposedly survived to produce a son who purportedly founded a line in Hungary that then moved to Russia. Louis was the son of Robert of Anjou, Duke of Durazzo, uncle of Charles, King of Naples and Sicily (died 1386). The descendants of Louis d'Anjou (died 1415 according to the genealogy) purportedly moved to Poland and then to Russia where their existence remained hidden for 500 years until Vassili Durassow (supposedly a corruption of Durazzo) suddenly appeared with a collection of documents in Russian that he presented with translations to the Spanish Cronista. This led to Alfonso XIII issuing a decree, countersigned by the Minister of Justice, Jose Canilejas, recognising him aa "chief of the House of Anjou Durassow, Duke of Durazzo, Count of Gravina and Alba and - (this was a lordship he had bought in England) Lord of the Honour of Mount Saint Angel" with the right to use in Spain the title of "Prince of Anjou Duraassow" dated 2 January 1913. He had already obtained permission on 27 July 1911 to use the title of Duke of Durazzo in Spain so this was gilding on his fantasy lily and he had this published in the official Gazette twice see https://www.boe.es/datos/pdfs/BOE//1911/245/A00589-00590.pdf https://www.boe.es/datos/pdfs/BOE//1911/287/A00113-00113.pdf
Strangely the second decree, of which there is a copy in the College of Arms, was not published in the Gaceta. Durassow had invented the whole thing, but with the Spanish document and thanks to having acquired an English lordship (an Honour is a group of manors) and the registration of the pedigree and diplomas in the College of Arms, he was entered in the Almanach de Gotha.
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