EUROPEAN ROYAL HOUSES

 

 

 

THE PSEUDO LASCARIS PRINCES AND THEIR FANTASTIC CLAIMS

 © Guy Stair Sainty

In two articles published in Hidalguia in 1954 the late Dr Jose-Maria de Palacio y de Palacio, Marques de Villarreal de Alava, examined the claims of the soi-disant Prince Lascaris to be a descendant of the ancient Emperors of Byzantium, and to be Grand Master of a variety of Orders of Knighthood.  

At the time that the first of these Princes emerged publicly in the early 1920s there was a real question over the future of the Greek Monarchy. The pseudo Prince Lascaris was apparently hopeful that he might somehow successfully promote his cause as a candidate for that throne.  

The Marques de Villarreal de Alava examined the claims to Byzantine Imperial with care, and came to the conclusion that they were without any merit and, indeed, deliberate inventions. He discovered that the “Prince” Eugene Lascaris Comnenus Paleologus, Duke of Athens (as he styled himself in 1943) was actually a Spaniard, a lawyer and former Prosecutor, named Eugenio Lascorz y Labastida. The name Lascorz was originally of Euskérico (Basque) origin and there were ancient Counts of Ribargorza who were Lords of Lascorz in the 10th century. Although this family lost its territorial possessions in the 14th and 15th centuries, various male lines continued to flourish.  

Unfortunately, it has not proved possible to link the earliest proven ancestor of the would-be Prince Lascaris with this ancient family, which, while it would not give them any claim to Byzantium, would be evidence of ancient male line nobility. The earliest proven ancestor discovered was Alonso Lascorz y Cerdan, from Plan, Huescar, the father of Victorian Lascorz y Abad, a laborer, who died in 1886, and was father of Manuel Lascorz y Serveto (baptized as such 17 Feb 1849, died 1906), who was father of Eugenio Lascorz, first “Prince” Lascaris, born in Zaragoza 26 March 1886 and baptized in the Church of Our Lady of Pilar, Zaragoza, 28 March 1886. Eugenio’s original baptismal records are recorded in the Church of Our Lady of Pilar, Book 19 of baptisms, folio 338, while his birth record is noted in the Zaragoza Municipal records number 2, 26 March 1886, Book 38, folio 104.  

Eugenio, discontented with his modest origins, decided that Lascorz was a Spanish corruption of Lascaris, and on 16 March 1917 he obtained a “certification” and rectification of his father’s birth records substituting the name Lascaris for that of Lascorz. When Eugenio married on 17 Jan 1920 Nicasia Justa Micolau y Traver Blasco y Margell, the Church register still  recorded him as Eugenio Lascorz. The civil register, however, described him as the son of “Manuel Lascorz (o Lascaris) y Serveto,” The sons and daughters of this marriage were given the splendid names of Teodoro (now “Grand Master of the Imperial Orders of Constantine the Great and of St Helena”, see http://www.new-byzantium.org/orderof.html), Constantino, Alejandro, Juan Arcadio (now “Grand Master” of the Order of St Eugene of Trebizond, see

http://www.new-byzantium.org/trebizon.html) , Elena and Sofia , and thus a dynasty was created. Each of these children was now inscribed as “Lascaris” and their father Eugenio signed as “Eugenio Lascaris”.  

Eugenio Lascorz was transformed into “Principe Eugenio Lascaris Comneno, heredero de los Emperadores de Byzancio y Pretendiente al Trono de Grecia” and in 1923 issued a manifesto to the Greek people. On 2 Aug 1935, now a lawyer and a public prosecutor under the Republic, Eugenio Lascorz (alias Lascaris) solicited the correction of the records of his sister’s birth and the marriage of his grandparents so that Lascorz would be substituted by Lascaris. On the 21st August 1935 he succeeded in this petition before the court, to which there was no 3rd party challenge and of which court he was of course an officer. Thus the records were amended (although the earlier ones not obliterated) to reflect the transformation of the new dynasty.  

Nonetheless, documents still exist which served to contradict these records. These relate to Eugenio’s deceased brother, Lorenzo Lascorz y Labastida, a medical student who was born and died with that name (his death is recorded in the Zaragoza records as occurring on 17 Feb 1900), in which his father and grandfather are named as Lascorz. Likewise the acts concerning various in-laws in which the names Lascorz are recorded provides further documentary evidence of the true identity of Manuel and Eugenio Lascorz. Villarreal de Alava in his analysis goes on to demonstrate several failings in the legal requirements for such rectifications. Lacking a coherent explanation for the mystery of why an obscure laborer from Plan, near Huescar, should have been descended from the Emperors of Byzantium, a genealogy has been presented or invented, giving Manuel Lascorz a differently named father and grandfather – Alonso Lascorz became “Principe Teodoro Lascaris, Porfyrogenito” (1761-1819) and Victoriano became “Principe Andronico Teodoro Lascaris,” alias Victorio (sic) (born 1801), who allegedly came from Greece and on settling in Italy supposedly took the name Victorio.   

The publication of this genealogy, circa 1935, was contradicted and augmented by another published in 1947 – this one now substituted a wife for Victoriano (now rebaptised as alias Pofyrogenito Teodoro Manuel Lascaris Comneno) who had in reality married Raimunda Serveto y Ballaran, but who was, in this latest reinvention of history, described as Irene Comnena Cantacuzena, supposedly born in Salonika the daughter of an army officer Demetrio Esteban (Dmitiri Stephen) Comneno, and Maria Cantacuzena.  

Still unsatisfied with this, yet another genealogy was produced in 1952, in which Alonso Lascorz, alias Prince Theodor Lascaris, was given a father, Andronicus Lascaris Comneno (1730-1797) supposedly married to Sofia Racowitza. Eugenio’s father, now named as Porfyrogenito and Prince Imperial, was described as heir to some 70 large estates, cities and castles that he had abandoned in order to settle in Zaragoza and marry “Maria, Princess Lascaris Comnena”. Their son, now styled “Eugenio II Lascaris Comneno, Principe Porfyrogenito, Duque de Atenas” claimed to be Grand Master of the Constantinian Order of St George, the Order of St Eugene of Trebizond, and Empress Saint Helena.  

These heroic essays in genealogical invention have now been augmented by a new version, which may be viewed on the web site of the family at http://www.new-byzantium.org/houseof.html. This extraordinary work of fiction now records that the unfortunate Lorenzo, medical student from Zaragoza, was actually “Lavrentios Emmanuel” and that he and Eugenio’s parents were not Manuel Lascorz y Serveto and Francisca Carmen Labastida y Pascual (married 1875) as the actual records show, but Alexios VI Emmanouil, born in Kutchuk-Levens in 1847 (instead of his actual place of birth, the village of Plan, Huescar, in 1849), who allegedly moved to Italy and then to Spain in 1870. This latest version does not explain his transformation from Manuel Lascorz y Serveto, then to Prince Manouil (Manuel) Lascaris (circa 1935), then Prince Manuel Teodoro Andronico Lascaris Comneno (1947), then Manouil Lascaris Comneno, Porfyrogenito and Prince Imperial (each born in 1849) to Prince Alexios VI born two years earlier. The unfortunate Francisca Carmen Labastida was airbrushed out of history on each of these genealogical trees, perhaps to deter someone from looking at the actual marriage records that would disclose the fraud.  

The father of Manuel (Manouil, or Alexis VI) is now given a number, as Andronikos IV Theodor, and the birthplace of Rasch-Serai in 1801 instead of the less exotic village of Plan where he toiled as a laborer, and a death in 1872 in Constantinople. This great city is of course far removed from the small village where he lived his life, and died after dispersing his possessions among his children in 1876.  From humble laborer he is transformed into the “Chief of the Etaireia and hero of the Greek War of Independence” while his own father, the equally humble Alonso Lascorz y Cerdan, husband of Victoria Manuela Abad, is reborn on the web as “Theodoro VIII Alexios, Porfyrogenitos (1761-1819), born in Tasch-Serai, Fanar of Constantinople”. Eugenio consigns an aunt (whom he marries off to Anagnostis Mouselle) to the flames of Constantinople in 1871, but fails to find an explanation for the other Lascorz relations left behind in Plan and Zaragoza. One can regret that no explanation has been offered for the life and achievements of Victorian Lascorz y Serveto, brother of “Prince Alexios VI Emmanouil” (to whose marriage to Maria Morillo y Fortuno no lesser person than the Porfyrogenito had appeared as a witness, but under the name Lascorz), or another brother Antonio Lascorz y Serveto, born in 1838 who rose to be a municipal judge and had several children by his two marriages, one of whom, Mariano Lascorz y Bielsa, became Secretary of the Municipal Jurisdiction of Plan in 1892. Why is there no mention of Ramona Lascorz y Serveto, who married José Castillo, or Maria, her sister, who married Benito Lalueza and another sister, Teresa, who in 1862 married Joaquin Semper? What is the explanation of the signature of Manuel as witness to various family acts in the village of Plan if, indeed, he was the claimant to the throne of Greece and Byzantium? If Manuel was indeed heir to the Greek and Byzantine thrones, why did he begin studies for the Roman Catholic priesthood at Barbastro in the years 1860-61? He was supposed to have been in either Tasch-Serai or Italy at that time!  

The rest of this fictional genealogy can be dismissed either as invention or as having no connection with the modest family of Lascorz from Plan, Huescar, in the region of Boltana. What is extraordinary about this blatant fantasy is that the latest claims contradict even the genealogy that “Prince” Eugenio sought to rectify through the Spanish courts in the 1920s and 1930s.  

The Marques de Villarreal de Alava published articles on this fantasy not only in Hidalguia, but also in the Madrid daily “Informaciones”. The soi-disant Prince Teodoro in his ample replies, merely denounced the Marques as his persecutor, but made no attempt to provide any documentary evidence to support the preposterous claims to Greek ancestry and to the alleged role these ancestors played in the history of modern Greece. The exchange between the Marques and the “Prince” continued from March through May without one document being cited to authenticate the “Lascaris” version of the 19th century genealogy of this family. Today, this farcical invention is perpetuated, still without any actual documentary support for these preposterous claims other than long listings of the names of those who have purportedly “recognized” these gentlemen and their families as “Princes”. Judgments of the Italian Courts (whose total lack of worth has been well-proven in such cases as the MacCarthy Mor fantasy), are cited - Tribunal of Avezzano, June 18, 1914, Pretura of Naples, August 7, 1929, Pretura of Naples, December 28, 1938, Tribunal of Rome, October 23, 1939, Pretura of Naples, July 11, 1941, Pretura of Naples, February 2, 1942, Pretura of Bari, June 26, 1945, Pretura of Casoria, June 5, 1945, Pretura of Bari, March 1, 1946, and the Pretura of Rome, September 10, 1948, but not one of these is actually of any relevance at all, since these courts neither had, nor claimed, any competence to determine the actual legitimacy of a claim to the throne of Greece or Byzantium, nor did they investigate any of the genealogical claims to which these “Princes” pretend.   

That a leading proponent of this fantasy is a certain “HRH Prince de Koppany Santa Pinter J Guyula, of the line of Szenc Istvan, of the ancient Hungarian House of Arpad, Duke of Somogy, Count of Arga, Grand Colla S.C.G. (St Constantine the Great) gives the measure of the worth of these pretensions.